Proposed changes to state flag

This screenshot from Goc. Andrew Cuomo’s State of the State YouTube video shows proposed changes to the New York state flag seal.

If the only constant in life is change, Gov. Cuomo hopes to carry that expression out in a new version of the New York state flag.

They would be the first changes in 138 years.

The Democrat & Chronicle reports that Cuomo would like to redesign the flag for the first time since 1882. He would like to add the Latin phrase, “e pluribus unum” to the flag, which is an expression the governor has plastered on NYC subway stops and airports, train stations, and rest stops in Upstate New York.

The phrase translates to “out of many, one” and the governor is making the case that its addition would deliver unifying message at a time when the nation is sharply divided.

“In this term of turmoil, let New York state remind the nation of who we are,” Cuomo said during his State of the State Address. “Let’s add ‘E Pluribus Unum’ to the seal of our state and proclaim at this time the simple truth that without unity, we are nothing.”

Rich Azzopardi, Cuomo’s senior adviser, confirmed the governor wants to change the seal and also the coat of arms and the flag.

According to the New York State Library, the present flag is a modern version of a Revolutionary War flag. The first version of the official seal included an image of a sun rising over the mountains. Over the years an official coat of arms was added to the seal, and four other changes were made.

In the seal’s current design, figures on either side of the shield within the Great Seal represent Liberty and Justice. On a banner below is the State motto, Excelsior, which means “Ever Upward.”

The proposed changes would add ‘E Pluribus Unum’ to the banner below Excelsior, however, changes will only come if Cuomo gets other lawmakers’ support.

Assembly Minority Leader Will Barclay, R-Pulaski, Oswego County, said the state has bigger issues to worry about.

“There are $6.1 billion more important things to be focused on,” Barclay told Democrat & Chronicle.

Jim Eckstrom is executive editor of the Olean Times Herald and Bradford Publishing Co. His email is