On our trip to Maine last week, since we had mistakenly put the wrong Portland into the GPS and didn’t notice until we were in Ohio, we had to actually open up a map. We have a big map book with a big map of each state in it, and even though the map is big since it’s a big map book, you can’t read any of the names of the towns without a magnifying glass and reading spectacles. And a monocle. With halogen lighting. The lighting is great in our car, but only if you are sitting in the back seat, which is great for back-seat drivers like myself. We couldn’t see a damn thing on the map except that up in margin of each page was hugely written the motto of each state. Appropriately, since we were driving to Maine and didn’t know which direction it was, the state motto is: “I Direct.” It didn’t give a phone number or anything, so we just kept driving, and it worked- we eventually got there.
New York’s motto is “Excelsior,” which means “ever upward” in Latin. And if the elevators are ever out in your building, you know exactly what they are talking about.
But as we looked into this further it’s clear that no one actually tried these state mottoes out on anyone. They should have left them all in Latin so that you can’t see how stupid they are. For instance, the Arkansas state motto is: “The People Rule!” Dude that is TOTALLY awesome! The people are stoked. However, South Dakota declares: “Under God the People Rule.” Dude now you’re bumming us out because it probably means we have to go to church.
New Hampshire’s is “Live Free or Die.” How would you like to be in that legislature session that has to raise the real estate taxes? No thanks. The state motto of Vermont looks exactly the same as New Hampshire, only upside down and to the right.
Washington’s is “By and By,” which added together is: “Bye-bye.”
Virginia chimes in with: “Thus Always to Tyrants.” Thus what? I think they were right in the middle of writing this one and the phone rang or something.
Connecticut: “He Who Transplanted Still Sustains.” This one seems grammatically awkward to begin with. Should it be “Who” or “Whom?” I can never remember, but I think in certain situations the Pete Townsend rock band when used as a predicate should be “The Whom.”
Some are quite violent-sounding. Mississippi’s is: “By Valor and Arms.” And probably not necessarily in that order. Massachusetts: “By the Sword We Seek Peace, But Peace Only Under Liberty.” If you go around seeking peace with a sword you are likely to find it eternally. Ironically, Texas’ is “Friendship.”
New Mexico: “It Grows As it Goes.” Sounds like something Billy Mays would say. HOWEVER: If you ACT NOW, we’ll throw in ANOTHER THREE, FOR FREE! Just pay shipping and handling.
Montana gets right to the point: “Gold and Silver!” Enough said there.
We held a contest for the winners of the stupidest state mottoes, and the winners were, in reverse alphabetical order: Michigan, with: “If You Seek a Pleasant Peninsula, Look About You.” (Hell that doesn’t even work for my glasses.) And Maryland, with: “Manly Deeds, Womanly Words.” I couldn’t even begin to guess what they were thinking.
Florida put the least amount of time into it I think. Theirs is, “In God We Trust.” They were trying to choose between “If You Seek a Pleasant Peninsula, Look About You,” and “Manly Deeds, Womanly Words,” and somebody said, “Flip a coin!” When they looked closely at the coin it came to them.
Incidentally, Benjamin Franklin wanted to make the turkey the national bird. Let’s face it: the guy was a big fatso, and if he could have named the national bird the turkey sandwich, he would have done so.
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