My home state of West Virginia split off from Virginia in 1863, right in the middle of the Civil War. So we’re celebrating our 150th year of being a state; we even got our own stamp (see From the Garret). I was kind of curious as to how we decided to forge an identity separate from our sister state, Virginia, and I figured state symbols were a good place to start.
So here’s how West Virginia and Virginia compare and contrast when it comes to picking birds, trees, flowers, and other odd things that symbolize our states:
West Virginia – cardinal (in tribute to our former status as western Virginia, I guess)
Virginia – cardinal
WV – black bear
VA – no animal, but the state dog is an American foxhound
WV – rhododendron
VA – flowering dogwood
WV – honeybee
VA – tiger swallowtail butterfly
WV – sugar maple
VA – flowering dogwood (getting repetitious here!)
WV – brook trout
VA – ditto
Just for the record, West Virginia also has a state fruit (golden delicious apple), a state reptile (timber rattlesnake!), and a state butterfly (monarch).
Virginia outdoes us by having a state drink (milk), state bat (Virginia big-eared bat, appropriately enough), state boat (Chesapeake Bay deadrise), state fossil (Chesapecten jeffersonius), state shell (oyster) and state dance (square dance).
I think I have to go with West Virginia on having the best state animal, but I can’t argue with Virginia’s choice of a butterfly over a honeybee. I think butterflies are pretty, although honeybees are quite useful. I would prefer not to have a rattlesnake as my state reptile. Apples are wonderful fruit and milk is a great drink; I just wonder why a state needs to pick such symbols.
If you were choosing a symbol for your own home/family, what would you choose?