“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.” Marcel Proust
2001 Memories of a Non-Wandering Wanderer
I remember clearly when Alaska became a state in 1959. It had been an issue that had been discussed in the news for several years before it actually happened. And it had been one of the issues I debated in school.
I remember that I took the opposing view, and one of my arguments against Alaska becoming a state was that it would mean Texas would then be only the second smallest state. Dumb argument, but what do you expect from a 14-year-old native Texan. And as I recall that argument was met by another 14-year-old who said: Alaska wouldn’t be bigger if all the snow and ice were melted away.
I thought about those school days as I drove from Haines Junction, Yukon, to Haines, Alaska, where I would catch a Ferry that would take me and my vehicle on the Inland Passage to Vancouver, Washington.
It was yet again another scenic drive, one with quite a few lake overlooks, an abundance of ground squirrels flittering here and there, trees full of bald eagles and roadsides full of small blue flowers.
I identified the flowers as Forget-me-nots, and learned it was Alaska’s state flower. From an Alaska guidebook, I also learned that the For-get-me not was first adopted in 1907 as the official flower of the “Grand Igloo,” an organization formed by pioneers that had arrived in Alaska before 1900, and that in 1917 it was proposed that the flower be declared the official emblem of the newly created Alaskan Territory. Esther Birdsall Darling wrote a poem for the occasion:
So in thinking for an emblem
For this Empire of the North
We will choose this azure flower
That the golden days bring forth,
For we want men to remember
That Alaska came to stay
Though she slept unknown for ages
And awakened in a day.
So although they say we’re living
In the land that God forgot,
We’ll recall Alaska to them
With our blue Forget-me-not.
In 1927, Benny Benson, a 13-year old Aleut boy, referenced the Forget-me not with his winning flag design for the territory. He said the blue field represented the sky and the blue of the Forget-me-not flower. The North Star is for the future state of Alaska, and the Dipper is for the Great Bear – symbolizing strength, he added.
When Alaska entered the Union as the 49th state, Benny flag was retained as the state flag – and the Forget-me-not was adopted as the official state flower.
And it seemed that everywhere I looked on the drive this day, I saw Forget-me-nots. And I never will forget them.
Bean Pat: Forest Garden http://tinyurl.com/hk8rssn Flowers and Words, lovely.