Happy birthday, Michigan!

January 26, 2016

By Emily Mata

Michigan’s first flag flew in 1837, the year Michigan became a state. On one side, the flag featured the state coat of arms, a solider and a woman. A portrait of Stevens T. Mason, Michigan’s first governor, was displayed on the reverse.

74 years later, in 1911, Michigan’s current state flag was adopted by the Legislature with a simple description: “the State Flag shall be blue charged with the arms of the state.”

The colors and emblems displayed on the state flag have distinct meanings. There is a dark blue background, and features an elk and a moose — which represent the wildlife abundant throughout Michigan— supporting a light blue central shield. The shield says “I defend” in Latin and depicts a man standing on a grassy peninsula holding one hand raised in greeting, the other holding a rifle. Above the shield is a bald eagle gripping an olive branch and arrows in its talons. A red ribbon above the eagle says “from one, many” and represents Michigan’s loyalty to the United States of America. Below the shield is another motto, “Si Quaeris Peninsulam Amoenam Circumspice,” which means, “If you seek pleasant peninsula, look about you.” Red, white and blue are prevalent throughout the flag, symbolizing revolution and freedom.

The state flag reminds us of the challenges, hardships, and ultimately, the recovery and success that the state of Michigan and its people have endured time and time again throughout 179 years of statehood.  Michiganders don’t quit. We never give up.  Today, as we recognize Michigan’s birthday, we are reminded that we are one Michigan.  Together, as a state, we will continue to work with an unwavering passion and commitment to solve challenges and improve our state for everyone who has chosen to make Michigan their home. 

Happy statehood day, Michigan.