Governor Blunt has finished signing all four of the bills passed by the legislature this year creating new state symbols. The legislature has never before created four state symbols in a single year. Twice, in 1967 and in 1997, the legislature created two new symbols.
Missouri gains a state game bird (Bobwhite Quail), a state grass (Big Blue Stem), a state invertebrate (crayfish) and a state reptile (three-toed box turtle), bringing the state total to 24 symbols, not counting the official day–Missouri Day..
The additions to the state symbol list mean Missouri has a state symbol that can kill a person if they get too much of it in their system—lead ore. It has one that has been fossilized for millions of years—not to be confused with the official state fossil, which is something else. It has an official state dinosaur that is not the state reptile. It has a state fish, which is not the same as a state aquatic animal which is not the same as the state amphibian. The state flower is a blossom on a bush; a flowering plant is the state tree. This year, the got a symbol that Missourians are encouraged to kill.
Some state senators think the process is getting out of hand. State symbol bills of late have been usually suggested by fourth graders who are studying Missouri government whose teachers think getting their state representative or senator to introduce a bill designating a new symbol is a good way for them to learn how government operates.
Missouri’s 24 state symbols, however pale in comparison to Texas, which has more than 50 (Texas even eliminated one–a state pastry–in 2005). Five additional states have 40 or more symbols. A half dozen have 30-40.
New Hampshire has TEN state songs and Tennessee has FIVE. We have one state song that has nothing to do with Missouri other than being a song about a song that someone learned while seated on their mammy’s knee in Missouri.
Judging from the symbols of other states, Missouri school children still have fertile ground to plow, to the discomfort of those lawmakers who question the cost of creating legislation to create a new "state something," as Senator Joan Bray of St. Louis puts it. She estimates each bill costs at least $10,000 just to introduce and print. Among other symbols adopted by other states are an official state pie, an official state possum, an official state steam locomotive, a state prepared food, state jellies, state doughnut, state cartoon character, state footwear, state bat, state dessert, and state rock song, a state footwear, and a state bat, among others.
(The audio montage accompanying this story features the voices of Senator Chuck Graham of Columbia, Senator Joan Bray of St. Louis, Senator Jolie Justus of Kansas City and, briefly, Senator Dan Clemens of Marshfield)
For those who are keeping score, here are Missouri’s official state symbols and the year in which they were approved.
1. Seal 1821
2. Flag 1913
3. Floral Emblem (Hawthorn blossom) 1923
4. Bird (bluebird) 1927
5. Song (Missouri Waltz) 1949
6. Arboreal Emblem (tree–Flowering Dogwood) 1955d
7. Mineral (galena–lead ore) 1967
8. Lithological Emblem (rock–Mozarkite)
9. Insect (honeybee) 1985
10. Musical Instrument (fiddle) 1987
11. Fossil (crinoid) 1989
12. Tree Nut (nut of the Black Walnut) 1990
13. Animal (Missouri Mule) 1995
14. American Folk Dance (Square) 1995
15. Aquatic animal (Paddlefish/Spoonbill) 1997
16. Fish (channel catfish) 1997
17. Horse (Missouri Fox Trotter) 2002
18. Grape (Norton/Cynthiana) 2003
19. Dinosaur (Hypsibema Missouriensis) 2004
20. Amphibian (North American Bullfrog) 2005
21. Invertebrate (Crayfish) 2007)
22. Grass (Big Blue Stem) 2007
23. Reptile (Three-toed Box Turtle) 2007
24. Game bird (Bobwhite Quail)
Missouri Day was created in 1915. It was the first Monday in October each year until the legislature made it the third Wednesday in October in 1975. People are to celebrate the achievements of all Missourians and school children are to honor the state.