When asked, most Ohioans can say with confidence our state bird, state tree or even the state bug. If you answered: the cardinal, the buckeye tree and ladybug, you are correct. However, do you know what our state motto is? It is displayed on the sidewalk in front of the steps of Ohio’s Statehouse. Emblazoned in the granite is our state seal and beneath the seal rests a banner with Ohio’s state motto: “With God All Things Are Possible.”
After seeing and reflecting on the motto a number of times, I became interested in the history of how it came to be the official state motto for Ohio. It was selected in the early 1950s, after the Ohio legislature sponsored a contest for what the state’s motto should be. According to a number of newspaper accounts from the time, the winning motto was submitted by 12-year-old James Mastronardo, who cited a direct passage from the Bible. It is in Matthew 19:26 to be exact. On October 1st, 1959, Ohio officially adopted the motto, “With God All Things Are Possible.”
The history of the motto has not been without controversy. In 1997, the ACLU sued the State of Ohio. Numerous federal courts ruled in favor of Ohio and the motto remained in place. Various judges explained that Ohio’s motto does not endorse any specific God over another. So it stood, and Ohio is one of only five states that include the word “God” in its motto.
Ohio’s motto has been a distinct and recognizable symbol of our state. A state motto can tell a lot about the inhabitants of a given state and can capture the spirit that lives within it. Since becoming a state in 1803, Ohio has been a place full of lofty dreams and significant accomplishments. From being the home of eight presidents, the man who invented the light bulb and the first man to ever step foot on the moon, Ohio’s innovative and entrepreneurial spirit will live forever. I like to believe that these individuals were able to reach such great heights guided by the grace of God. Also, the important day to day accomplishments which do not receive such media attention—the raising of a child, the caring for the sick or elderly, raising crops to feed our state—all take strength and resilience. It is a blessing to be reminded that “With God All Things Are Possible”
It is a phrase that means a lot to me personally. Sometimes when a problem or situation seems insurmountable, I remind myself that “With God All Things Are Possible” and that no matter what happens, we are not alone. God is with us through good times and bad and every blessing in our lives comes from Him. My faith is very important to me, and I am reminded of it every time I walk past the Statehouse and I see our state motto: “With God All Things Are Possible”.