By Anne McKee / guest columnist
The Meridian Star
May the Mississippi Mockingbird perch upon our shoulders, while sweet Magnolias fragrance the air …
A bird perched upon our shoulders? Doesn’t sound too comfortable, does it? Shall we analyze this phenomenal?
First: a Mississippi Mockingbird will only live in one place. That’s right, Mississippi — a real plus for us! Next — perching upon our shoulders, sounds as though we are up and moving around, another plus, and magnolia blossoms, hmm — enough said.
Join me in uplifting additional State of Mississippi symbols:
State Coat of Arms and Motto
The Mississippi Legislature, by action dated Feb. 7, 1894, accepted a committee-recommended Coat of Arms, described as "A Shield in color blue, with an eagle upon it with extended pinions, holding in the right talon a palm branch and a bundle of arrows in the left talon, with the word, Mississippi above the eagle; the lettering on the shield and the eagle to be in gold below the shield two branches of the cotton stalk, saltier wise, and a scroll, which is red, the motto printed in gold letters upon white spears accompanying the motto — VIRTUTE et ARMIS which means valor and arms.
(The Mississippi Legislature intended, I think, our Coat of Arms and Motto to display a people who were courageous and honorable, and they got it right!)
The State Flag
The Mississippi Legislature approved the flag design, February 1894, and described it as follows: "One with width two-thirds of its length; with the union square, in width two-thirds of the width of the flag; the ground of the union to be red, and a broad blue saltier thereon, bordered with white and emblazoned with thirteen (13) mullets or five-pointed stars, corresponding with the number of the original upper one blue, the center one white, and the lower one extending the whole length of the flag, red—the national colors; the staff surmounted with a spear-head and a battle-axe below; the flag to be fringed with gold, and the staff gilded with gold."
(In 1894, The Mississippi Legislature wanted to present a flag that represented a people who had traveled the pathway of destruction and reconstruction. We must never forget the lives given so that the banner may fly with honor, especially at this time, which is the 150th anniversary of the American Civil War as well as the memory of the many battles fought throughout our American history, and the lives that were lost.)
The State Bird: Mockingbird
Found in all sections of Mississippi, the cheerful Mockingbird was selected as the official State Bird by the Mississippi Federated Women’s Clubs and the State Legislature in 1944.
(Mississippi women – that was a good choice, ladies.)
The State Flower and Tree: Magnolia
An election was held in November 1900 to select a State Flower. Votes were submitted by 23,278 school children. The magnolia received 12,745 votes; the cotton blossom 4,171, and the Cape jasmine 2,484. There were a few votes for other flowers. The magnolia was officially designated as the State Flower by the 1952 Legislature.
In 1935, the Director of Forestry started a movement to select a State Tree for Mississippi; to be selected with nomination and election by the school children of the State. There were four nominations: magnolia, oak, pine, and dogwood. As you can see the magnolia received by far the largest majority. On April 1, 1938, the Mississippi Legislature officially designated the magnolia as the State Tree.
(Go! Mississippi School children! Go!)
The State Fish
Catfish, of course, was designated as the State Fish of Mississippi, Chapter 551, General Laws of Mississippi 1974. For weekly fishing reports you may call: 1-800-ASK-FISH.
(Make your call to the fish today!)
The State Insect
The Honeybee was designated the State Insect of Mississippi, Chapter 317, General Law of Mississippi 1980.
(Bet you thought it was a mosquito!)
The State Land Mammal
The White-Tailed Deer was designated by Senate Bill No. 2324, General Laws of Mississippi 1974. For more information about hunting in Mississippi, call 1-800-628-7852. To purchase hunting license, call 1-800-5GO-HUNT.
(Run! Little Bambi! Run!)
The State Waterfowl
The Wood Duck designated by Mississippi, Chapter 551, General Laws of Mississippi 1974.Mississippi boasts more than a million acres of prime game habitat in 36 wildlife state management areas and there are National Wildlife Refuges open for public hunting, including marshy waterfowl havens.
(Our chocolate lab, Suzy, knew a few ducks up close and personal!)
The State Beverage
An act to designate milk as the state beverage was adopted by the Mississippi State Legislature during the 1984 Regular Session.
(Milk? How many voted for “Sweet Tea?”)
The State Song
"Go, Mississippi," — By Houston Davis
States may sing their songs of praise
With waving flags and hip-hoo-rays.
Let cymbals crash and let bells ring
‘Cause here’s one song I’m proud to sing.
Go, Mississippi, keep rolling along.
Go, Mississippi, you cannot go wrong.
Go, Mississippi, we’re singing your song,
(Can you sing the Mississippi State song? And it’s not, Go Bulldogs!)
Now, aren’t we happy we awoke this morning, a Mississippi morn, with a glass of milk (or sweet tea) in our hand, where the mockingbirds sing, and magnolias fragrance our wonderful days, as we enjoy that piling plate of fried catfish, and watch the white tails dance through the piney woods, and the wood ducks swim along near the Honeybees, plus a song on our lips … or something like that?
May the Mississippi Mockingbird perch upon our shoulders, while sweet Magnolias fragrance the air … only in Mississippi could there be such a wonderful phenomenal. May God continue to bless our great State of Mississippi. (I know I typed Mississippi three times in two sentences, but that’s precisely what I needed to do – a need to uplift Mississippi, my birthplace and happy home.)
Anne B. McKee is a writer and storyteller. Visit her website at www.annemckee.net.