August 15, 2016
West Virginia became the 35th state in the Union after President Abraham Lincoln signed a proclamation on April 20, 1863, although the proclamation would not become effective for another sixty days. This was after the people of Virginia seceded from the Union in 1840. The ones who opposed formed their own government and this formed the state of West Virginia. This is the only state to be proclaimed with a Presidential Proclamation.
West Virginia’s state flag is white with a navy blue border surrounding it. In the center is the coat of arms of West Virginia, while a wreath of rhododendron (the state flower) is on the lower half of the coat of arms. Above it is a red ribbon, reading the words “State of West Virginia”. Inside the coat of arms stands two men and in between them is a rock which has the date of West Virginia’s admission (June 20, 1863) inscribed and the state’s motto, Montani Semper Liberi, meaning “Mountaineers are always free”.
West Virginia adopted its state flag on March 7, 1929 by Senate Joint Resolution Number 18, which was approved by the Legislature. The proportions of the West Virginia state flag are the same as the United States national flag.
While coal was West Virginia’s biggest industry for years, tourism is now their biggest industry, placing coal in second. People visit popular attractions like the Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, Seneca Caverns, and New River (which is ironically one of the oldest rivers in the world).
May 27, 2016
May is a very important month for American service men and women. There is Armed Forces Day, which is celebrated annually on the third Saturday in May. Then there is also Memorial Day, a day in which to remember service men and women who have died in combat or while in service to their country.
Memorial Day was originally called Decoration Day. The reason why it was first known as Decoration Day was because service members’ graves were decorated with flowers and flags. This day was created as a reaction to all the deaths of over 600,000 soldiers in the Civil War. These were from both sides of the war. Something had to be done to remember the dead. And so, on May 5, 1868, Memorial Day was created. On the inaugural Decoration Day, General James Garfield appeared at the Arlington National Cemetery and made a speech while participants decorated the graves of thousands of Civil War soldiers, both Union and Confederate.
New York was the first state to officially recognize Memorial Day in 1873 and was recognized by all Northern states just seven years later. The South opposed this day to memorialize the soldiers, so they celebrated on their own day until after World War I. The day is spent memorializing all members of the military who have died in combat after the Civil War
Thanks to the passage of the National Holiday Act of 1971 by Congress, Memorial Day is now observed in nearly every state on the last Monday in May. Several states consider it a Federal holiday which allows for it to be a three day weekend for many. It is also considered to be the official start of the summer season in the United States.
Trivia: At Arlington National Cemetery, each grave interred there has one American flag to mark it on Memorial Day? This has been done since 1948.
March 23, 2016
Wisconsin, the 30th state in the Union, was founded by Frenchman Jean Nicolet in 1634. Great Britain later obtained the territory from the French in the French and Indian Wars in 1763. They owned the land for twenty years until the United States gained ownership of it after the Revolutionary War but Britain regained the territory in the War of 1812. Wisconsin later gained its statehood on May 29, 1848.
Wisconsin’s state flag was adopted in 1913 but this flag had been flown even earlier. Civil war regiments were asking for an official banner to fly. On March 25, 1863, a flag was adopted for Wisconsin which was blue and bore the state’s coat of arms and this flag was eventually re-adopted in 1913. The state flew its flag with just its coat of arms until 1980, when many Wisconsin residents were unhappy with how they were unable to tell their state flag apart from other state flags (which were also had coats of arms). After that, the word “Wisconsin” in white letters were placed above the coat of arms and “1848” was added below the coat of arms.
Dairy and Cheese: Wisconsin is well known for its dairy, many coming for their amazing milk, cheese, and other dairy products. There are over 600 cheese varieties alone in the state of Wisconsin, and has a high amount of cheese consumption in the state.
Here’s some cheese trivia:
Limburger*: The cheese known for its pungent aroma that originated in Europe is produced only in Monroe, Wisconsin for the United States.
Colby Cheese: Like colby cheese? It was invented in Colby, Wisconsin!
Brick Cheese: Invented in Dodge County in 1877. It got its name due to the fact that cheesemakers used to use bricks to press moisture from the cheese.
In addition, 99 percent of farms in the state of Wisconsin are family owned.
March 10, 2016
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Iowa was included in the Louisiana Purchase, came under US control in 1803, and became the 29th state on December 28, 1846. The state flag was not adopted until 1921 when it was designed by a Mrs. Dixie Gebhardt who was from the Daughters of the American Revolution of Iowa. The flag’s colors are red, white, and blue, and take on the same tricolor pattern as the French flag, paying homage to its French roots. The white center of the flag is larger and has a bald eagle holding a flowing ribbon in its beak. The ribbon reads, “Our Liberties we prize, and our rights we will maintain.”
Iowa’s state capital is Des Moines which had been named after a military post called Fort Des Moines that had been established along the Des Moines river during the 1840s. The city was officially incorporated on September 22, 1851. The city has a population of over 204,000 (as of the 2010 Census) but a Metro population of nearly 570,000.
Iowa got its state name is from the word Ioway, the French version of the name Bah-kho-je, which was the name of the Indian tribe that lived in the area.
Well known Iowans-31st US President Herbert Hoover was born in West Branch, IA, on August 10, 1874.
Actor John Wayne (born as Marion Mitchell Morrison) was born in Winterset, IA on May 26, 1907.
November 30, 2015
Missouri became the 24th state in the United States on August 10, 1821. The state (or territory) was first obtained as a part of the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. It was later admitted as a state during the Missouri Compromise of 1820.
The Missouri Compromise was an attempt to preserve the balance of power of Congress between slave and free states. When the Compromise was passed in 1820, Maine became a free state and Missouri became a slave state as a result. Later on, the Compromise was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court, ruling that Congress did not have the power to change law regarding slavery in the territories.
Missouri’s state flag was designed by Marie Elizabeth Watkins Oliver in 1913. The flag is rectangular with three horizontal stripes, which are red, white, and blue. They represent the state’s French heritage as they were part of the Louisiana Purchase, bought from France. The stripes also represent valor, justice, purity, and vigilance. In the center is a blue-banded circle surrounded by 24 stars, symbolizing the 24 states in the Union. Inside the circle are two grizzly bears, who represent bravery and strength. The bears are holding a shield which has a gold knight’s helmet sitting atop of it and 24 more stars. Inside the shield is the Missouri Coat of Arms, which is divided by three images. On the right side is a bald eagle grasping olive branches and arrows in its talons (these mean war and peace). On the left side is a grizzly bear on a red background and a crescent moon on a blue background.
Underneath the bears is a white belt which reads, United We Stand, United We Fall. Notice that the grizzly bears holding the shield are standing on top of a ribbon which reads, Salus Populi Suprema Lex Esto (Let the Welfare of the People Be The Supreme Law). Finally, underneath the motto is the Roman numeral for 1820, the year which Missouri became a state.
Missouri is also known for the Lewis and Clark Expedition. Meriwether Lewis and William Clark were asked by Thomas Jefferson shortly after the Louisiana Purchase to explore the land beyond the West of the great rock mountains. The two gentlemen started their journey in St. Louis, journeying to the Pacific and returning in 1806. They made diplomatic relations with Native Americans and maps were drawn by Clark, who also named many of the places he drew.
Trivia: Iced Tea was first served at the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis!
October 28, 2015
Maine became the 32rd US state on March 15, 1820. Although first visited by Italian explorers John and Sebastian Cabot in 1498, the first English settlers did not arrive until the 1600s. Maine used to be governed by the state of Massachusetts until the Missouri Compromise in 1820, allowing Maine to become a state.
Maine’s state flag was adopted in 1909, 89 years after being admitted to the union. The flag is dark blue with a coat of arms in the center. The coat of arms has two men on opposite sides of aa shield. The men are a farmer and a seaman, who represent the agricultural and maritime industries of Maine. Pictured inside the shield is a moose (the official state animal of Maine because the state has more moose per mile than any other state), a pine tree, grass, a light blue sky, and dark blue water. A yellow star stands atop of the shield which symbolizes the North Star since it was the northernmost state at the time of its entry into the Union, and a red ribbon underneath it reading “Dirigo”, which is Latin for “I direct”. Below the shield and the gentlemen is a blue ribbon reading “Maine”.
Maine is the only state with one syllable in its name and despite being a small state, it has a large amount of coastline (3,478 miles). They also house a large amount of lighthouses in the state (about 67). The capital of Maine was originally Portland but was later changed to Augusta in 1832 but the population of the current capital is still smaller than the population of Portland.
Food Trivia: Maine produces about 90% of the US’ supply of blueberries.
Animals: In addition to the moose being the state’s official animal, the Maine Coon (or Wild Coon) cat is also the state’s official cat!
July 22, 2015
The first thirteen colonies were complete after the admission of Rhode Island into the union. It had been less than one year when the next state, Vermont, became the first state after the formation of the thirteen colonies, also known as state number fourteen.
Vermont’s state flag was not adopted until 1923 although there was a previous state flag. This flag is a dark blue with the state’s coat of arms on it. In the coat of arms is a pine tree, a cow, some bales of hay, and sheaths of wheat. There are purple mountains in the background against a blue sk. On top of the coat of arms is a stag’s head, and on the bottom boughs of pine needles envelope the coat of arms. There is also a red ribbon which reads Vermont and the state’s motto Freedom and Unity.
Vermont’s name is French for “green mountain”, or mont vert due to the state being surrounded by green mountains. Vermont is also the largest producer of maple syrup in the United States, producing over 500,000 gallons per year. While the state’s capitol is Montpelier, the population in the city is less than 10,000 people.
Cool Trivia: Vermont is the state where Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream was founded! The company also gives their ice cream waste to local farmers who then feed it to their hogs(unfortunately, mint Oreo is not their favorite flavor).
- Chester A. Arthur (serving 1881-1885) was also born in Fairfield, VT in 1830.
- Calvin Coolidge (serving 1923-1929) is the ONLY US president to have been born on the 4th of July in Plymouth, VT.