Each of the 50 united states, along with territories such as Puerto Rico and the United States
Virgin Islands have separate and distinct flags.
Some state flags such as that of the Commonwealth of Virginia (Four states are officially
organized as commonwealths, not states: Virginia, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and Kentucky.)
have Latin mottos emblazoned on flags, others have mottos in English, some are just colorful
combinations. Every state – and commonwealth – has a flag which somehow reflects either
history of the state or is specifically representative of the state.
The dark blue Virginia flag has the round state seal in the middle, with the Latin motto “Sic
semper tyrannis” at the bottom, which translates to “Thus Always to Tyrants,” and the figure in
the seal shows triumph over a defeated king. The flag was adopted by the Virginia legislature in
January of 1861, three months before seceding from the Union in April of 1861 at the beginning
of the Civil War.
It took the state of Arizona five years to create an official flag after statehood was awarded in
1912. In 1917, a flag with a dark blue bottom, a large copper colored star in the middle, and 13
bands suggesting rays of sunshine was chosen, making the Arizona flag one of the most unique
and colorful of the state flags.
Even though all of the original 13 colonies which later formed the United States of America were
British colonies, Hawaii, the last state to join the Union in August of 1959 is the only U.S. state
which incorporates the British Empire Union Flag into its design.
The flag was originally introduced in Hawaii in 1845 when the islands were under British
influence, but the various flags of Hawaii changed as control of the islands changed. When
statehood was attained in 1959, the 1845 design, which was subsequently re-adopted by the
Republic of Hawaii from 1894 to 1898, then used as a U.S. territorial flag from 1898 to 1959,
simply transitioned to the official state flag.
On display, state flags are always second to the national colors, but rank above flags of lesser
political subdivisions such as cities and counties. Flags of separate organizations, such as
universities, religions, or private organizations/companies also rank below state flags when on