Celebrating statehood: Michigan’s symbols
“The whisper of the forest tree, the thunder of the inland sea; unite in one grand symphony of Michigan, my Michigan,” – Giles Kavanagh
MARQUETTE— Just like in the 1963 Elvis Presley movie of the same title, it happened at the world’s fair. But it wasn’t at Seattle’s Century 21 Exposition – where the hip-shakin’ King of Rock-n-Roll not only sang and grooved in the movie, but also starred as a pilot who flew a crop-dusting plane – it was instead in Chicago, in 1893.
That’s when and where a special “National Garland of Flowers,” crafted from flowers representing each of the then 44 U.S. states, was presented at the World’s Fair: Columbian Exposition to more than 27 million attendees.
This would foreshadow the inspiration of states, including Michigan, to eventually adopt representative symbols ranging from fish to fowl, cars to canines.
Today, the lists of these state symbols can be long, depending on the state, and often contain some interesting, unique and unexpected inclusions.
For example, Maryland has an official sport, and it is jousting. The state vehicle of Texas is the chuck wagon. Just under half of our states share a state dance, and that dance is the square dance.
Even with more conventional categories, there are unexpected entries. Maine’s state “flower” is the white pine cone.
In 1996, Utah designated the beehive cluster as its official state star cluster. Wisconsin has an official state dog – the American water spaniel – while Maryland adopted the tabby as its official state cat.
But that isn’t all Massachusetts has. The Bay State is also home to a state muffin (corn), state inventor (Ben Franklin), state donut (Boston cream) and a state beverage (cranberry juice).
In fact, Massachusetts has 55 official state symbols.
Here in Michigan, like many other states, we of course have our state flag, capital, seal and coat of arms.