Michigan State Flag: History, Design, Trivia
DATE FIRST USED
Michigan State Flag
Dark blue field with the state coat of arms in the center.
Symbols: The state coat of arms. An elk and a moose, native animals that stand for Michigan's pioneers, flank a shield above which an eagle spreads its wings. The shield depicts the sun rising over a peninsula and a lake, with a man raising one hand and holding a long gun in the other. The man's raised hand is meant to be a peaceful sign, while his gun shows a willingness to defend his state and country. The lake refers to Michigan's borders with four of the five Great Lakes. At the top of the shield is the Latin word Tuebor, meaning "I will protect." Below the shield is a second Latin inscription, the state motto, which reads, Si Quieris Peninsulam Amoenam Circumspice, meaning "If you seek a pleasant peninsula, look about you." Above the eagle, the U.S. motto, E Pluribus Unum, which means "From many, one," stands in white on a red ribbon.
Colors: Dark blue, light blue, dark brown, light brown, red, white, yellow, black, and gold. There is no particular symbolism to the colors of the flag. Dark blue usually stands for loyalty and can be interpreted as a link to the American flag. The rest of the colors make a realistic picture.
Proportions: 2:3, 3:5, or 5:8
Variations: The governor's flag is white with the state's coat of arms.
The current flag of the state of Michigan is actually its third official flag. The first Michigan flag was also dark blue. On one side, it had a portrait of Stevens T. Mason, the first governor. On the reverse side appeared a soldier, a woman, and the Michigan coat of arms.
In 1865, the flag design was altered, perhaps because of changing times at the end of the Civil War. The portrait of Stevens Mason was removed and the Michigan coat of arms moved to the front of the flag. The back bore the U.S. coat of arms. However, the legislature never codified this flag design.
In 1911, the current flag was adopted. Double-sided flags were expensive to produce, so the U.S. coat of arms was dropped from the flag. The language of the act making this flag official was simple in the extreme. It read: "The state flag shall be blue charged with the arms of the state."
The Michigan state flag flies alongside the U.S. flag at the state capitol when the legislature is in session, when the supreme court is in session, and on any public occasions. The flag should be treated with respect. It is recommended that it not touch the ground during hoisting or lowering and that it should hang or fly clear of the floor, the ground, or anything beneath the flag. It is also suggested that it should never be deliberately torn, marked, or damaged. Flags that become tattered or dirty because of normal wear and tear are usually replaced and disposed of privately.
LEGENDS, CONTROVERSIES, AND TRIVIA
Michigan's flag has not one but three Latin mottoes on it.
Steven T. Mason, whose image was on the first Michigan flag, strongly influenced the territory and state's early development. Mason's father had been secretary of Michigan Territory. Mason had assisted him while he was secretary and filled the post at a young age when his father moved on to a new position.
The Michigan state flag is one of over 20 U.S. state flags that have a blue field with the state arms or seal.
Though the current Michigan state flag was adopted in 1911, it was first displayed about 46 years earlier in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, as part of the ceremony laying the cornerstone for the Solders' National Cemetery monument.
-World Trade Press