State boosters already know that the 2015 General Assembly filled a void in state law that had been gaping since 1997: they adopted a state song.
Actually, they adopted two, a traditional song, “Our Great Virginia,” lyrics by Mike Greenly and arranged by Jim Papoulis, and a popular song, “Sweet Virginia Breeze” by Robbin Thompson and Steve Bassett.
Left at the altar, sadly, was a beautiful song by Susan Greenbaum, “Virginia, the Home of My Heart.”
Just take a listen to “Our Great Virginia” on YouTube (and the money here says most people won’t, or if they do, they’ll leave quickly).You’ll find it’s a dirge, plodding along to the tune of “Shenandoah,” a song that isn’t about Virginia. It’s actually about traveling down “the wide Missouri” river out west.
On the bright side, the choice of Thompson and Bassett’s paean to all things great in Virginia was inspired and appropriate. “Sweet Virginia Breeze” has been considered for top state tune for more than 20 years.
Many of the new laws passed by the Assembly will take effect on July 1. But the songs bill became the law of the commonwealth as soon as the ink from the governor’s pen dried.
The two songs join a long list you can find in the statute books of Virginia’s “official emblems and designations.” Just check out Virginia Code § 1-510.
Since we now have two state songs, it figures we have two official state fish: the brook trout for freshwater and the striped bass for saltwater.
Milk is the official beverage, not bourbon. Maybe with that growing pick-two trend in the Code we might see “children’s beverage” and “adult beverage” someday soon.
You’ll find that the official dog is the American foxhound. Cat lovers continue to get no respect: there is no official cat in Virginia. Figures in a state where it is a crime to steal a dog, but not a cat.
Adding to that particular insult is the fact that there’s even an official bat – the Virginia big-eared bat – and an official insect, the tiger swallowtail butterfly. Yet still no cat.
The official shell is the oyster (crassotrea virginica, if you’re keeping a scorecard).
And as everyone knows, the official flower of Virginia is the dogwood.
But here is a quirk: While the cardinal is the official bird of Virginia (so designated in 1950), you won’t find it in the official emblems list in Code § 1-510. There is no mention of birds, official or otherwise.
That will give the 2016 General Assembly something to do.
Especially if they decide we need two birds.