A design by Marie Elizabeth Watkins Oliver was adopted as the
official Missouri State Flag on March 22, 1913; almost 92 years after Missouri became
the 24th state to join the union. This design was for a rectangular Missouri state flag,
consisting of three horizontal red, white and blue stripes. These stripes represent
valor, purity and vigilance and justice. A circle is centered on the Missouri state flag
surrounded by a band of blue enclosing the Missouri Coat of Arms on a white background.
The blue band displays 24 white five-pointed stars representing Missouri as the 24th
state. The shield of the Missouri Coat of Arms shows a Bald Eagle grasping the olive
branches of peace and the arrows of war in its talons. This represents the strength and
powers of the Federal Government. On the left side of the shield, the state side, is a
grizzly bear and a crescent moon. The grizzly bear on the Missouri state flag symbolizes
the strength and bravery of the people of the state. The crescent moon symbolizes the
state of Missouri at the time of its induction into the union; a state with a small
population and wealth and huge potential. The crescent moon on the Missouri state flag
also symbolizes the "second son." Missouri was the second state to be carved from the
territory acquired with the Louisiana Purchase.
The shield is encircled by a belt inscribed "United we stand, divided we fall"
indicating the advantage of the Union of the United States. Two more grizzly bears, one
on each side of the shield, echo the bravery and strength of the state of Missouri
citizens. They are standing on a scroll displaying the Missouri State Motto, "Salus
Populi Suprema Lex Esto" (Let the welfare of the people be the supreme law). Below the
scroll are the Roman Numerals for 1820, the year that Missouri became a member of the
United States. Above the shield on the Missouri state flag is a helmet, representing
Missouri as a sovereign state. A large star surrounded by 23 smaller stars signifies
Missouri's status as the 24th state. A cloud around the large star represents the
difficulties that Missouri endured on its way to statehood.