Symbols of the Commonwealth of Virginia
||FLOWER - In 1918, the state floral emblem commonly known as the American
dogwood (Cornus florida) was adopted. It was selected to foster a feeling
of pride in our state and to stimulate an interest in the history and traditions
of the Commonwealth
|BIRD - In 1950, the General Assembly chose the northern cardinal (Cardinalis
cardinalis) as the state bird because of its bright plumage and cheerful
song. In eighteenth-century England, the cardinal was called "the Virginia
nightingale." The cardinal is part of the finch family.
||TREE - In 1956, the state adopted the American dogwood as the official
tree. The dogwood is well distributed throughout the Commonwealth, and
its beauty is symbolic of the many attractive features of Virginia. The
dogwood blooms in early spring and its blossom is a tiny cluster of flowers
surrounded by four white leaves that look like petals.
|DOG - In 1966, the American fox hound became the state dog. George
Washington imported fox hounds into Virginia for hunting purposes. All
fox hounds are descendants of these dogs. The American fox hound is also
one of four breeds of American origin, the other three originating in other
states. The American fox hound is a medium-sized hound trained to hunt
||INSECT - In 1991, the tiger swallowtail butterfly (Papilio glaucus
linne) was adopted as the state insect. It is easily identified by its
yellow and black, tiger-striped wings and dark tail. It is one of the most
common and conspicuous butterflies of the eastern United States.
Song Emeritus "Carry Me Back to Old Virginny"
|The obverse side of the great seal depicts the Roman goddess Virtus
representing the spirit of the Commonwealth. She is dressed as an Amazon,
a sheathed sword in one hand, and a spear in the other, and one foot on
the form of Tyranny, who is pictured with a broken chain in his left hand,
a scourge in his right, and his fallen crown nearby, implying struggle
that has ended in complete victory. Virginia’s motto, Sic Semper Tyrannis
(Latin for "Thus Always to Tyrants"), appears at the bottom.
||On the reverse side of the seal are the three Roman goddesses, Libertas
(Liberty) in the center holding a wand and pileus in her right hand, Aerternitas
(Eternity) with a globe and phoenix in her right hand, and Ceres (Fruitfulness)
with a cornucopia in her left hand and an ear of wheat in her right. At
the top is the word Perservando (Latin for "by Persevering"). A border
of Virginia creeper encircles the designs on each side
|HOUSE OF DELEGATES MACE - The Mace is a ceremonial staff presented
to the House of Delegates in 1700 by the Governor General of the Colony
and Dominion of Virginia. Displayed in the old House chamber is an Edwardian
style mace made of silver with a 24-karat gold wash. Purchased in England,
it was presented to the Virginia House of Delegates in 1974 by the Jamestown
Foundation. The mace is presented by the sergeant-at-arms in the current
House chamber and remains each day until the House adjourns.
||The importance of the mace lies in its symbolism, which derives from
English tradition. Centuries ago, the King’s bodyguard carried clubs in
order to protect the royal person when traveling among the people. Gradually
the club, or mace, was replaced by other more useful weapons and it became
an ornament of beauty, often made of precious metals encrusted with jewels,
and an object symbolic of royal authority and power. As such, it was first
used in the British House of Commons.
|I salute the flag of Virginia, with reverence and patriotic devotion
to the ‘Mother of States and Statesmen,’ which it represents—the ‘Old Dominion,’
where liberty and independence were born."