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Maine's state flag as it flies today was adopted on 24 February 1909. The flag generally depicts the state of Maine's coat of arms, against a dark blue backdrop. The state's flag law generally requires that Maine's state flag be bordered with a 2-inch (5.08-centimeter) knotted fringe in golden silk. Above the Maine coat of arms on Maine's state flag, one generally finds a representation of the north star, and a small banner inscribed with the state's Latin motto, "Dirigo" or "I lead." A banner below the state's coat of arms typically bears the state's name.
The symbolism on the state flag of Maine is said to represent the state's natural attributes, agriculture, industry, and resources. The state of Maine is often referred to as the Pine Tree State, and a pine tree appears in the center of the state's coat of arms as it is depicted on the state flag. A resting moose is displayed beneath this tree, and together they are believed to represent Maine's native wildlife.
The state's coat of arms also depicts a sailor and a farmer standing at either side of the shield. These represent seafaring and agriculture, two of Maine's most traditional industries. Maine's state flag also depicts the ocean and the sky in the background of its state coat of arms, as a further nod to Maine's nautical prowess, as well as its agricultural pride.
Prior to the adoption of this modern flag, Maine used another state flag design. The decision to designate a state flag at all was originally made on 21 March 1901 by the Maine State Legislature. The original design depicted a pine tree in the center of a beige backdrop. In the upper corner to the left of this tree was a blue star. This design served as Maine's state flag until February 1909, when the legislature voted to replace it with the current design.
The blue background of Maine's current state flag is the same shade as the blue that appears on the United States flag. Maine's state motto, and the use of the north star on the state flag are a nod to Maine's seafaring heritage and the historical importance of the north star to navigation. Voyagers over both sea and land have relied upon the north star to show due north for much of human history.