One of the ways we kill time on the road is to read (and ponder) the various license plates we see, and the state mottoes that they display. As it turns out, state license plates don’t always match the official state motto. Here are a few observations on both.
In the category of “We don’t understand the difference between church and state,” we have Alabama: God Bless America. That being said, apparently license plates in Alabama are also required—by law since 1951—to have a tiny heart shape reading Heart of Dixie.
Many Americans seem to be conflict-driven. New Hampshire boasts the strangely pugnacious Live Free or Die. Maryland commemorates the War of 1812, though they didn’t really fare so well in that conflict, so there have been movements to change that. Another possible conflict could be between North Carolina, First in Flight, and Ohio, Birthplace of Aviation.
Minnesota’s 10,000 Lakes could easily be appended with: 10,000,000,000 Mosquitoes.
States out West tend to entice you into adventure, from Arizona’s straightforward but intriguing Grand Canyon State, to New Mexico’s hard-to-beat Land of Enchantment, Utah’s Life Elevated, and Alaska’s The Last Frontier. The exception being Idaho, apparently the best they could come up with is Famous Potatoes, though Maine (Vacationland) actually produces more of those delicious tubers.
I personally love Washington DC’s pride in having Taxation Without Representation.
Montana recently changed from Big Sky Country to The Treasure State, and I think they’ve lost some magic there. But, in keeping with the treasure theme, California calls itself The Golden State.
Pennsylvania must be hard up for tourists, as they changed from The Keystone State to the simple Visitpa.com; perhaps a step up from the former You’ve got a friend in….
A few states just say it like it is: The Green Mountain State (Vermont); The Aloha State (Hawaii); The Ocean State (Rhode Island); Wisconsin’s America’s Dairyland; but Washington seems to want to apologize for the constant rain with its Evergreen State. Michigan’s Spectacular Peninsulas just seems to be trying too hard.
Some talk about their people: The Volunteer State (Tennessee), Virginia is for Lovers, and Missouri’s Show Me State, which may be short for Show Me [the way out of this] State.
Louisiana’s Sportsman’s Paradise is apparently, grammatically, just for the one lucky guy.
I don’t know about you, but when I think of Nevada, I think of gambling and whorehouses, not the baseball and apple pie of Home Means Nevada.
Some states don’t say anything on their license plates, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have some state pride. State mottoes of some of these states include, Kansas: As big as you think; Mississippi: Feels like coming home (erm, filling me with dread?), and the engagingly frank Nebraska: Honestly, it’s not for everyone. Indeed.
South Carolina and Oregon are for dreamers: While I dream I hope and We love dreamers.
Kentucky used to be Where Education Pays, but unless they mean you have to pay extra for private education, I think we all know why they changed that one. And Texas just says Go Big or Go Home. Don’t tell the Texans that, if you cut Alaska in half, Texas would be the third largest state. I guess you just Don’t Mess with Texas.