Flags are used as a symbol of power by states, institutions, and organizations. The prominent display of flags in government buildings and significant landmarks highlights the level of importance attached to flags. The flag of the state of Michigan is unique and features essential symbols that are valued by the people and the state leadership.
The flag of Michigan includes a blue shield that depicts a man standing over a bright yellow sun with its rays of light reflecting upon a lake. The man holds a gun in his hand, which depicts peace in the land and the strength and ability the state has to defend itself. The shield is held or supported by an elk and a moose, which are two important animals in the state of Michigan. An eagle with spread wings sits on top of the shield, which represents the United States.
There are also three Latin mottos featured on the flag. The first is "E Pluribus Unum" which means "Out of many, one," and is a motto of the United States. The second is "Tuebor" which means ‘I will defend.’ The third is "Si Quaeris Peninsulam" which means "If you seek a pleasant peninsula, look about you."
The current Michigan flag was adopted in 1911 and is the third state flag. The first Michigan flag, which featured the state's first governor. However, no records or images were kept, and the flag is completely gone. Adopted in 1865, the second Michigan flag had an image of the state coat of arms and the United States coat of arms placed side by side. The need to incorporate other symbols from the rich heritage of Michigan led to the alterations present on the current Michigan State flag.
Written by Harold G. Coburn, the pledge of the Michigan state flag was adopted in 1972 by the Public Act 165 of 1972.
In 2001, the North American Vexillological Association (NAVA) rated a total of 72 flags from US states, US territories, and Canadian provinces. The state flag of Michigan was ranked 59th out of 72, and scored an average mark of 3.46 out of 10. This rating may be a contributing factor in the plan to redesign Michigan's flag in the coming years.