September 9: State Motto Day

Today is the anniversary of California’s admission as the 31st state of the Union. The discovery of gold in California in 1848 caused its population to explode, and in 1849 settlers applied for admission to the Union after drafting a state constitution that prohibited slavery. Because making California a state would upset the balance of free and slave states, statehood was delayed until September 9, 1850, when the Compromise of 1850 opened the door for California statehood.

In addition to a state constitution, Californians adopted a state seal in 1849 with the motto “Eureka,” — The Greek word for “I Have Found It” — an appropriate interjection for a state whose reputation was made on gold strikes (1).

The official state motto of Missouri is Latin: Salus Populi Suprema Lex Esto (“Let the Welfare of the People Be the Supreme Law”). In fact, ‘English Only’ proponents might be surprised to learn that more than half of states in the union have mottos in languages other than English.

Here are the statistics on the polyglot mottos:

Latin: 22

French: 2

Greek: 1

Hawaiian: 1

Spanish: 1

Italian: 1

Native American – Chinook: 1

Six states feature one-word mottos. Only one state, Vermont, has its state’s name in its motto, and Florida is the only state with the same motto as the United States of America: “In God We Trust.”

For a complete list of mottos with English translations visit Wikipedia (3).

Today’s Challenge: Motto Mania

Generate some new state mottos for your home state or the other 49 states.  Have a motto contest in your class or online.  They can be funny or serious, but they should all memorable; after all, they may someday be emblazoned on a license plate.

Quotation of the Day:  The Philosopher’s Motto: I came, I saw, I pondered! –Greg Curtis

The geography pages at include a humor section called “New State Mottos.” See if you can match up the state with its “new” motto. When you finish, try creating some of your own mottos.


1 – The Library of Congress. American Memory. “Today in History: August 10.”

2 – Missouri Secretary of State’s Office

3 – U.S. State Mottos –

4 – New State Mottos –


  1. Illinois 2. California 3. Nebraska 4. Indiana 5. Rhode Island 6. Washington 7. Iowa 8. Kansas 9. Minnesota

September 8: International Literacy Day

Today is International Literacy Day sponsored by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). First observed in 1967, International Literacy Day calls attention to the need to promote literacy and education around the world as an antidote to poverty.

According the UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, more than 100 million girls and boys never enroll in school. At the minimum 860 million adults worldwide are illiterate.

Education and literacy are central to the stability, prosperity, and well-being of any country. As explained by Koichiro Matsuura, UNESCO Director-General:

Literacy is not merely a cognitive skill of reading, writing and arithmetic, for literacy helps in the acquisition of learning and life skills that, when strengthened by usage and application throughout people’s lives, lead to forms of individual, community and societal development that are sustainable.

Today’s Challenge: Read All About It
Read and reflect on the the quotations below about the importance of literacy and education. Which do you like the best and why?

“Once you learn to read, you will be forever free.” –Frederick Douglass

“Learning to read is probably the most difficult and revolutionary thing that happens to the human brain and if you don’t believe that, watch an illiterate adult try to do it.” –John Steinbeck

“Literacy is a bridge from misery to hope. It is a tool for daily life in modern society. It is a bulwark against poverty, and a building block of development, an essential complement to investments in roads, dams, clinics and factories. Literacy is a platform for democratization, and a vehicle for the promotion of cultural and national identity. -Kof Annan

“Bigotry is the disease of ignorance, of morbid minds; enthusiasm of the free and buoyant. Education and free discussion are the antidotes of both.” –Thomas Jefferson

“One of the greatest gifts adults can give — to their offspring and to their society — is to read to children.” –Carl Sagan

True literacy is becoming an arcane art and the United States is steadily dumbing down.
-Isaac Asimov

Quote of the Day: Knowledge is power. Information is liberating. Education is the premise of progress, in every society, in every family. –Kofi Annan

1 – UNESCO – Education – Literacy Day –

2 –

3- Online Etymology Dictionary