In 1907 Mrs. James C. Fessler of Rochelle suggested to state officials that Illinois schoolchildren vote for a State Flower and a State Tree. The children chose the Native Violet as the State Flower and the Native Oak as the State Tree (see State Tree entry below). In 1908 Senator Andrew Jackson of Rockford introduced a bill making them official Sate Symbols.
In 1928 the Macomb branch of the National Federation of Professional Women's Clubs suggested that Illinois schoolchildren vote for a State Bird. The schoolchildren chose the Cardinal from a list of five birds frequently seen in Illinois. In 1929 Representative James Foster introduced a bill making it an official Sate Symbol.
In 1973 a special poll of 900,000 schoolchildren changed the official State Tree from Native Oak to White Oak. It was signed into law that same year.
The bald eagle represents the United States. In its beak is a banner with the state motto on it, "State Sovereignty, National Unity," meaning that the state governs itself under the government of the United States. In its claws is a shield with thirteen bars and thirteen stars, representing the first thirteen states. The two dates on the boulder are the dates of Statehood and of the State Seal. The ground around it symbolizes the Prairie state's rich prairie soil.
Note: Illinois has had two state flags. The first State Flag was adopted in 1915, however, for more than 50 years, the flag carried only the graphic images of the state and state motto described above, but not the word, "Illinois." In 1969 Chief Petty Officer Bruce McDaniel of Waverly, then serving in Vietnam urged that a new flag be designed to include the word "Illinois." Without his state's name on it, the identify of the Illinois flag hanging in his mess hall was often questioned. The state name was added in 1970.
What more can be said about Abraham Lincoln that has not already been in print and in lore? One of our most cherished presidents, he's an American hero and an eternal example of the rewards of perseverance. Of all the hardships he faced both personally and politically, he overcame each one steadily, which added depth and humility to his character. He was at the helm of a turbulent ship and a mutinous crew, but he was guided by good conscience, fairness and a firm belief that a vessel built "by the people, and for the people shall not perish from the earth."
"O Captain! My Captain! Our fearful trip is done,
The ship has weather'd every rack,
the prize we sought is won,
The port is near, the bells I hear,
the people all exulting,
While follow eyes the steady keel,
The vessel grim and daring;
But O heart! Heart! Heart!
O the bleeding drops of red,
Where on the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead."