FELDER RUSHING: Put a Magnolia on Our Flag

By SPECIAL TO THE PRESS REGISTER,

 

Dear Editor,

As I travel across the world, I’m often asked where I’m from and, because we have both good and bad cultural baggage, when I say “Mississippi” I get looks and comments. Many are favorable; some are not.

I just hold my head up and go on, because I treasure my ancestral home’s peoples and cultures, and love how we celebrate our good while working on the rest.   

And to me, nothing epitomizes our spirit better than the Magnolia State’s official floral emblem. Its beautiful glossy foliage and huge, fragrant flowers are instantly recognizable worldwide. The Garden Clubs of Mississippi’s Avenue of Magnolias astonishes every visitor and returning native driving through the eight major entrances, and, since 1949, a bold rendering of its flower and leaves has graced our historical markers.

All this is to say that, as of last month, we have a mandate to create something strong and evocative that can represent Mississippi well to people both near and far. Much like Texans’ Lone Star and the South Carolina’s palmetto, we have an opportunity to extend our positive market brand by putting, rather than something nearly generic, our uniquely reminiscent state flower on a new state flag..

Our legislature decreed that "In God We Trust" be including in the design, which can easily underwrite a bold rendering of the flower.

Main thing is, little this side of roses brings more smiles than the beloved and celebrated magnolia flower. Hope it ends up, in one form or another, on the flag of the great Magnolia State.

 

Felder Rushing,

Mississippi columnist and horticulturist

Jackson, Miss.

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