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Virginia State Symbols


Welcome to one of the few states that have no really cool nicknames. Mother of pResidents—is that something to be proud of? Fortunately, Virginia has some cool symbols to distract us from the wretched leaders it has spawned . . . (Continued below)

Virginia State Flag
Nicknames & Slogans
Nicknames Old Dominion, Mother of States, Mother of Presidents, Cavalier State  
Symbols of State
Motto Sic Semper Tyrannis
Song Emeritus Carry Me Back to Old Virginia 1997
Flower American dogwood (Cornus florida) 1918
Tree dogwood (Cornus florida) 1956
Bird cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) 1950
Bat Virginia big-eared bat (Plecotus townsendii) 2005
Pony Chincoteague ponies (Equus caballus) 2023
Dog American Foxhound (Canis lupus familiaris) 1966
Snake eastern garter snake (Thamnophis-sirtalis-sirtalis) 2016
Amphibian red salamander (Pseudotriton ruber) 2018
Fish brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis) 1993
Saltwater Fish striped bass (Morone saxatilis) 2011
Insect tiger swallowtail (Papilio glaucus) 1991
Shell oyster shell (Crassostrea virginica) 1974
Rock Nelsonite 2016
Fossil † Chesapecten jeffersonius (Chesapecten jeffersonius) 1993
Soil Pamunkey (unofficial) Unofficial
Cultural Symbols
Boat Chesapeake Bay Deadrise 1988
Fleet Replicas of the three ships that sailed from England to Jamestown in 1607: Susan Constant, Godspeed and Discovery 2001
Spirit George Washington rye whiskey 2017
Beverage milk Redundant Symbol 1982
Sports Hall of Fame Virginia Sports Hall of Fame, Portsmouth 1996
Motor Sports Museum Wood Brothers Racing Museum and Virginia Motor Sports Hall of Fame, Patrick County 1995
Gold Mining Interpretive Center Monroe Park, Goldvein, Virginia 2001
Coal Miners’ Memorial The Richland Coal Miners’ Memorial, Richlands 2009
Folklore Center The Blue Ridge Institute, Ferrum 1986
Folk Dance square dance Redundant Symbol 1991
Emergency Medical Services Museum To the Rescue, Roanoke 1994
Song (Popular) “Sweet Virginia Breeze,” by Robbin Thompson and Steve Bassett 2015
Song (Traditional) “Our Great Virginia,” lyrics by Mike Greenly and arranged by Jim Papoulis with music from the original American folksong “Oh Shenandoah” 2015
Outdoor Drama The Trail of the Lonesome Pine Outdoor Drama 1994
Historical Outdoor Drama The Long Way Home 1994
Television Series Song of the Mountains 2017
Shakespeare Festival Virginia Shakespeare Festival 2013
Artisans Center Virginia Artisans Center, Waynesboro 1999
Freedom Flag 2018
War Memorial Museum Virginia War Museum, Newport News 1997
Flag Salute 1954
Language English Redundant Symbol 1996

The popular American dogwood serves as Virginia’s state flower and tree both. The state bird is the cardinal, the most popular of state birds. Virginia’s state fishes are the super popular brook trout and striped bass, while the state insect is the tiger swallowtail. Does Virginia have any unique symbols?

Virginia is one of just a handful of states with an official bat, the Virginia big-eared bat. Its official amphibian is the red salamander, while Nelsonite is the state rock. Another personal favorite is Virginia’s state boat, the Chesapeake Bay deadrise.

On a more serious note, Virginia has two symbols that commemorate slave owners. One is the state fossil, a scallop named Chesapecten jeffersonius for pResident Thomas Jefferson. The other is George Washington rye whiskey, which was named the official spirit. Do you suppose Washington made his own whiskey, or did his slaves make it for him?

Virginia is one of many states that need a new flag. On the positive side, it isn’t racist, unlike Washington’s state flag, which depicts you know who.

* * * * *

If you think state flags and flowers are nothing more than trivia, guess again. A thorough exploration of the more than 1,500 items adopted as state symbols embraces geography, history, and psychology.

You have found the best state symbols website, but it’s just the tip of the iceberg. The introduction above is adapted from Geobop’s State Symbols and My State Symbols Book, by far the biggest and most detailed state symbols references ever. You can learn still more about the symbols of the 50 states in the books Flag Quest and Grading the States. (Learn more about them here.)

After you spend some time exploring your favorite state’s symbols, you can come back here and tell us what you think about them.

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