Thursday, August 2, 2012

Things to Love About Alaska #2


Alaska has a uniquely integrated state symbolism.  Most states have a flag, a motto, a song, a state flower, etc. and none of these things has much to do with any of the others.  In Alaska, the state flag came first, designed in 1927 by then-13-year-old Benny Benson as part of a contest for school children.




Benny described his inspiration for the flag.  "The blue field is for the Alaska sky and the forget-me-not, an Alaskan flower.  The North Star is for the future state of Alaska, the most northerly in the union.  The Dipper is for the Great Bear--symbolizing strength."

In 1935, Marie Drake wrote a poem inspired by the flag design.  Entitled "Alaska's Flag," it was set to music two years later by Elinor Dusenbury, and in 1955 the song was adopted as the official state song.




The forget-me-not, one of the inspirations for the color of the flag, had been the official flower when Alaska was still a territory, and continues as the official state flower.  The motto "North to the Future" was adopted in 1965 and echoes Benny's explanation for his inclusion of the North Star in the emblem.  There are lots of things that don't fit with the flag, song, motto, and flower--for instance, although a constellation representing a bear is on the flag, the state land mammal is the moose--but it is nice that at least four symbols of the state are linked in this way. 

My home state, California, does have a link between its flag and the official state animal, the grizzly bear.  Unfortunately, the animal is extinct in the state that it represents.


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