Flag of Louisiana

Louisiana State Flag

Flag of Louisiana

The state flag of Louisiana displays a white pelican nurturing its young by tearing at its own breast (signified by three drops of blood), with a white banner below containing the state motto in blue letters (Union, Justice, and Confidence); all on a field of blue.

Flags and heraldic symbols sometimes stray from the facts - pelicans are known for their attentive nurturing of chicks, but do not really tear at themselves to feed them (self-preservation is the norm in nature, not self-sacrifice). Mark Shields, author of the Brown Pelican account for Birds of North America (BNA) Online (the definitive source for scientific information about our birds) says:

"Pelicans do NOT tear at their own flesh to feed their young. This legend, which has taken on some religious significance as a symbol of self-sacrifice, dates back to at least medieval times. It may have begun as a result of misinterpretation of normal feeding behavior, in which the parent holds it bill down along its breast as young reach in to take fish from the parent's bill or pouch. The truth is that pelican parents, facing starvation, would abandon their young and save themselves."

The pelican has been a symbol of Louisiana since colonial times. The pelican is found on Louisiana's state seal, state painting, and is one of three Louisiana symbols that appear on the U.S. Mint's Louisiana bicentennial quarter. Ten very different flags have flown over Louisiana:

Spanish Flag of Leone & Castile
French Fleur-de-Lis (LaSalle) [1682]
British Grand Union [1763]
Bourbon Spain [1769]
French Tri-Color [1803]
U.S. Flag of 15 Stars [1803]
West Florida Lone Star
Independent Louisiana (1861)
Confederate Flag (1861)
Louisiana Flag [1912]

Pledge to Louisiana Flag

Louisiana officially recognized a state pledge in 1981:

I pledge allegiance to the flag of the state of Louisiana
and to the motto for which it stands:
A state, under God, united in purpose and ideals,
confident that justice shall prevail
for all of those abiding here.