July 20th, 2018 is National Pennsylvania Day! Why July 20th, when Pennsylvania entered the Union on December 12, 1787? No idea. Nevertheless, we’ll take this opportunity to learn some fun facts about Pennsylvania (or P-A as we like to call it). And even though I’m from Pittsburgh, I’ll throw some love out to Philadelphia, too.
Pennsylvania’s State flag is more of a square than a rectangle. It is composed of a blue field on which the State Coat of Arms is embroidered. The Pennsylvania coat of arms features a shield crested by an American bald eagle, flanked by horses, and adorned with symbols of Pennsylvania’s strengths—a ship carrying state commerce to all parts of the world; a clay-red plough, a symbol of Pennsylvania’s rich natural resources; and three golden sheaves of wheat, representing fertile fields and Pennsylvania’s wealth of human thought and action. An olive branch and cornstalk cross limbs beneath—symbols of peace and prosperity. The scroll at the bottom reads Virtue, Liberty and Independence.
We all know that Pennsylvania is rich with history, so let’s learn some fun and interesting facts about Pennsylvania:
The Philadephia Eagles and the Pittsburgh Steelers merged to form the Steagles for one season in 1943. The teams merged because both lost so many players to military service during WWII.
In 1909 the first baseball stadium was built in Pittsburgh (Forbes Field).
The first daily newspaper was published in Philadelphia on Sept. 21, 1784.
Pennsylvania is the birthplace of a lot of America’s favorite junk food. A short list of Pennsylvania-founded companies includes Rita’s Water Ice, Hershey’s, Tastykake, Just Born (makers of Peeps), Auntie Anne’s, Herr’s, Planters, Utz, Wise, and Snyder’s of Hanover. Many of these are located in a part of central Pennsylvania that’s commonly called the Snack Belt.
The iconic banana split sundae was born in 1904 in Latrobe, Pa., when 23-year-old David Evans Strickler was experimenting with new sundaes while apprenticing at the local Tassel Pharmacy.
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North Dakota became the 39th US State on November 2, 1889 when President Benjamin Harrison signed a bill creating the Dakota Territory. Around the end of the 1870s, people wanted the Dakota Territory to enter Union as both a single state and as two states. The Dakota Territory successfully became North and South Dakota in 1889.
North Dakota’s state flag was adopted in 1911, about 22 years after the state’s admission into the Union. The flag was introduced by Colonel John. H. Fraine. The state flag is a dark blue with bald eagle in the center, holding an olive branch in its right talon and arrows in its left talon. The eagle is grasping a gold lined red ribbon in its beak, which reads E Pluribus Unum, which is Latin for “Out of one, many”. There are two symbols of the original thirteen territories on this flag: one is a shield of thirteen stripes on the eagle’s chest and thirteen yellow stars above its head, with a fan shaped design above the stars. Underneath the eagle is a small red scroll which says “North Dakota” and yellow scrolls swirling outside of it. In 1951, a state flag commission had been established to consider changing the state flag because it “too closely resembled the coat of arms of the United States of America and that the flag was not symbolic of North Dakota”. However, the legislation was rejected.
State Flower: While North Dakota’s state flower is the Prairie Rose, the state actually grows the most sunflowers than any other state.
Theodore Roosevelt: The 26th President of the United States was very important to the state of North Dakota. He spent some of his younger years in the state and helped found the national park system. In fact, there is a national park named after him that was established in 1978.
Nevada is the 36th state to enter the union. Since its entry, the state has had several variations of their state flag. Nevada had a previous state flag was blue, had thirty six stars on it, and had the words “Silver” and “Gold” emblazoned on it, to reflect their most famous resources. The flag underwent several changes until 1926 when a contest was held to design a brand new state flag since the previous version was too expensive to reproduce. The winner was Louis Schellbach III, who kept the blue background of the original flag but the previous use of the state’s coat of arms was now replaced by a wreath
Although Nevada’s current state flag was adopted on March 26, 1929, it was later revised on June 8, 1991. The current Nevada flag is still cobalt blue with a white five pointed star off to the left hand side. In between the star are two sagebrushes, forming a half-wreath. Underneath the star reads “Nevada”, and above is a golden ribbon that says, “Battle Born”, the state’s motto, which symbolizes the birth of statehood in Nevada.
Nevada is well known for their famous tourist cities like Las Vegas, Reno, and Laughlin. Las Vegas is possibly the most popular city with over 40 million visitors each year. The city is home to casinos that never close and shows like Cirque du Soleil and singers who perform shows regularly in the casinos. The Vegas strip runs for 4 and a half miles and is nothing but neon lights throughout.
The Hoover Dam is also home to Nevada, located just on the border of Arizona and Nevada. The dam was originally called Boulder Dam and was built during the Great Depression. Naming the dam was controversial, since the name was changed to Hoover Dam before and then changed back to Boulder Dam (thanks to Harold Ickes) before it was changed once again to Hoover Dam for good. It was indeed named for 31st President Herbert Hoover.
Name:Nevada was named after the mountain range, the Sierra Nevada. The name Nevada means “snow covered” but unfortunately, the state is the driest in the nation!
Back in May, Memorial Day marked the beginning of summer, leading to three months of barbecues, vacations, and outdoor activities. After a long and hot summer, we are now at Labor Day in the United States. Children go back to school and the summer traveling season slows down. Labor Day is the day where many take the opportunity to have one last hurrah. A final barbecue, trip to an attraction, or to take the day off.
Every first Monday in September is Labor Day in the United States. The day is to celebrate the everyday worker and their achievements. The first Labor Day was celebrated in 1882 in New York City by the Central Labor Union. The second Labor Day was held a year later on September 5th, which was held the previous year on the same day. Finally, as originally proposed, it was changed to the first Monday in September in 1884. It was originally held in New York City, but then other cities followed suit. Eventually, a few states began to propose Labor Day observations in their legislatures. In 1885, Oregon was the first state to officially recognize Labor Day as an official day while New York was still introducing the bill to their local legislators. By June 28, 1894, Grover Cleveland officially signed the act into law under the pressure of Congress.
Which one? There is debate on who originally proposed the idea of Labor Day. Some say it was Peter J. McGuire, who was the founder of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America. Others say it was Matthew Maguire, who was a machinist and a secretary of Local 344 of the International Association of Machinists in Patterson, NJ.
In the present, Labor Day is considered a public holiday, so major government offices, post offices, and schools are closed to observe the holiday. Many businesses are also closed in observance or close early. Those who do work on the holiday are usually given holiday pay.
Kansas joined the Union as the 34th state on January 29, 1861. The Civil War had started the year the state entered the Union and while they were a new state, they were the state who had suffered the most casualties from the war compared to any other state.
Kansas’ state flag was adopted on May 21, 1927. It had been flown at Fort Riley for the first time to honor the troops and the Kansas National Guard. The flag is a navy blue and has the state seal emblazoned in the middle. This seal depicts the rising sun in the East while life, of covered wagons, livestock, and farming, go on in the left hand corner and below. In the sky are 34 stars, each symbolizing a state at the time the seal was created during Kansas’ entry into the Union. Above the stars is a gold ribbon, reading Ad Astra Per Aspera, the state’s motto, meaning “to the stars through difficulties”. Underneath the state seal is the word “Kansas” in yellow and atop the seal is a sunflower sitting on a twisted blue and gold bar. This bar is said to symbolize the Louisiana Purchase in which the land Kansas was in was also acquired from. The sunflower is also Kansas’ state flower.
Sunflower State/Wild Sunflower: As one can see on the state flag, the state’s official flower is the sunflower. They were growing before the land even became a state, and explorers marveled at the beauty of the golden petals. Early on, their stalks were burned for fuel and the seeds had been fed to birds. It was sadly thought of as a “noxious weed” by people who disliked the flower but was still loved by many residents of Kansas. The flower grows native to the state’s soil and many life forms, like bees and butterflies, thrive on sunflowers. Their seeds also make a very tasty snack!
Along with Sunflowers, wheat is a very big commodity in the state. Large amounts of wheat grow (enough to provide everyone in the world with at least six loaves of bread!) but the wheat harvest is very short! From early June to the first part of July, according to the Kansas Wheat Commission.
Kansas is also known for the well-known film Wizard of Oz (1939) in which the first part of the film takes place in Kansas. In Liberal, Kansas, there is a replica of Dorothy’s house known as Dorothy’s House and Land of Oz!
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.
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.
The second to the last of the original thirteen states is New York. Known as the “Empire State”, New York became the 11th state on July 26, 1788. The state’s flag was not adopted until 1901. On the blue flag displays the state’s coat of arms, featuring Liberty, who symbolizes freedom, and Justice, symbolizing justice before the law. The shield that Liberty and Justice each have a hand on pictures the sun rising against a clear sky behind three mountains. There are two boats sailing on the Hudson River. Above the shield is an eagle sitting atop a globe while underneath is a white ribbon reading the state motto Excelsior, meaning “Ever Upward”.
New York was actually the United States’ first Capital from 1785-1790, where George Washington was inaugurated as the First US President in 1789. The Erie Canal was constructed and opened in 1825, now part of the New York State Canal System.
New York is also well known for having the largest city in the United States, New York City. There are many famous and historic landmarks where millions of people visit every year, The Statue of Liberty being one of them. The Statue of Liberty was a gift from France and was dedicated in New York Harbor on October 28, 1886. The city is nicknamed the Big Apple. (the state’s official fruit is the apple). It is also home to Ellis Island, where more than 12 million immigrants have passed through here between the 1890s and 1954. It is currently part of the Statue of Liberty National Monument.
Size Matters: While it is the third most populous state in the United States, it is the 27th largest state.
Cars: New York was the first state to require license plates on cars!
Coat of Arms: New York’s Coat of Arms was adopted in 1778, before New York even became a state!
1792: The New York Stock Exchange was founded in New York City.
The Coast Guard turned 224 years old yesterday August 4, 2014. Beginning in 1790, Congress commissioned a flotilla of 10 to enforce tariff and trade laws, prevent smuggling, and protect the collection of federal revenue. (www.military.com) The Coast Guard is one of the oldest organizations in our government. The original name was Revenue Marine and the Revenue Cutter Service the name was changed in 1915 when the government joined the Service with the Life-Saving Service to form an organization to serve all maritime services. Including, saving life at sea, enforcing our nation’s maritime laws, aid to maritime navigation, operating the nation’s Lighthouses, Merchant Marine licensing and inspection, since 2003 the Coast Guard has served under the Department of Homeland Security. The Coast Guard has been a defensive frontline in its long esteemed history.
The Women’s Reserve of the U. S. Coast Guard Reserve program (officially nicknamed the “SPARs”), was first established in 1942. LCDR Dorothy Stratton transferred from the Navy WAVES to serve as the director of the SPARs. A total of 978 women officers and 11,868 enlisted women served in the SPARs during World War II. (www.uscg.mil) although women were keepers of lighthouses as early as the 1830’s. In 1973, Congressional legislation ended the Women’s Reserve and women were first officially integrated into the active-duty Coast Guard and the Coast Guard Reserve. This background is sparse (this is a blog!). For more 411 please check out the USCG link.
My girlfriend Melanie and I graduated from high school in 1979. I asked Melanie to tell her story.
What age were u when joined?
I went into the Coast Guard through the “Delayed Enlistment Program” in signed up when I was 17 yrs, I forged my mothers signature to the paper work.
Why the USCG versus another branch of the military?
Actually, there are 2 reasons – 1st one is that I got interested when in 6th grade on a field trip to an air station in Port Angeles, WA. Then I figured I’d go into a smaller military thinking that there may be better opportunities. I was not offered very many opportunities after high school.
What opportunities were offered u as a women?
None really, it was 1979 and they men including the officers thought of the women as “moral incentives for the men” kind of sucked. (that is another story in itself)
What were your duties?
I was first stationed in Cape May, New Jersey (Boot camp). While in Cape May I won a push up contest against the guys and I was approached by an officer and asked if I would be interested in being the very first “Full Time” fire fighter in Kodiak, AK. Silly me thought why not. That was the hardest job I have ever had. Men usually only need to prove themselves once with other men, I was forced to proved my abilities daily (I had to carry 200lb men up and down ladders in and out of windows, etc…every stinking day. Then I was stationed in San Diego & Texas (ship and oil well firefighting schools). Then I was sent to Petaluma, CA (Coast Guard Station Two Rock)where I trained to be a radioman. Then to Charleston SC I was radioman their, and off the Miami, FL where I also was a radioman. (As far as busy USCG bases Miami was crazy, I would handle at least 20 SARS (Search & Rescue cases), about 5 Drug enforcement cases, and maybe 10 immigration cases at the same time. I extended my enlisted for one year and got out in 1984.
What is your proudest moment in your USCG career?
I have several but the one that stands out the most is in 1980 I was on Leave in Georgia and came across a vehicle overturned in a ditch. I crawled into the car and assisted the occupant while Billy Carter stood outside the car and kept putting out the fire that had erupted. He told his brother Jimmy about me and I was awarded one of the highest medals offered by the coast guard for bravery and courage.
Now that you have a daughter of your own, would u recommend a military career?
Yes, I would recommend the Coast Guard to my daughter, it taught me valuable lessons that I use every day.
What advice to young women seeking a Coast Guard career would you give?
Check into the academy or officer training schools, an officer life is a much better one. Also, keep your mouth shut, follow orders whether you agree with them or not and just try to have the best time you can.
Melanie was the First Full-Time Women Fire Fighter in the United States Coast Guard. What an accomplishment in that era, because she helped pave the way for women Coast Guard members than set precedent today. Today, on the Birthday of our United States Coast Guard I say THANK YOU for all you do. For my girlfriend Melanie, you are so brave and true, thank you for being my friend.
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