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Battle Born: Contrary to popular belief, it’s not Nevada’s state motto

Nevada’s new Battle Born license plate commemorates the state’s sesquicentennial.

Nevada’s sesquicentennial (say that five times fast) license plate has already received criticism for having been made in Oregon (Nevada’s equipment cannot make the plates), but perhaps the larger issue is its use of the phrase “Battle Born.” After all, that’s not the state motto. Neena Laxalt, co-chair of the Nevada Sesquicentennial Planning Committee, which designed the plate, says “All for Our Country” (Nevada’s actual motto) was considered. “Ultimately, ‘Battle Born’ was selected, as it is a prominent insignia on the state flag and a popular symbol of pride for Nevadans statewide,” she says. Guy Rocha, a state archivist for 28 years who’s now retired, isn’t surprised that “Battle Born” has become our de facto state motto. He speculates that the state nickname—coined by Thomas Fitch, a delegate at the Constitutional Convention in 1864—has supplanted “All for Our Country” because of the state’s increasing Libertarian slant since the days of the Civil War. “Nevada was admitted into the union to support Lincoln in his reelection, which was essentially to bring the nation back together and subordinate states to the nation,” Rocha says. “‘All for Our Country’ is patriotic if you feel good about the nation, but if you’re a states’ rightist—that the federal government is oppressive—you just don’t throw that motto around.”

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Ken Miller is Las Vegas Weekly's associate editor, having previously served as assistant features editor at the Las Vegas Sun ...

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