The Flag of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts displays, on both sides, the state coat of arms centered on a white field. The shield depicts an Algonquin Native American with bow and arrow; the arrow is pointed downward, signifying peace. The arm itself is the Goliad symbol common in early Texan flags and signifying the philosophy that those represented would rather lose their right arm than live under tyranny. A white star with five points appears next to the figure's head, signifying Massachusetts' admission as the 6th US State. A blue ribbon surrounds the shield, bearing the state motto Ense Petit Placidam, Sub Libertate Quietem ("By the Sword We Seek Peace, But Peace Only Under Liberty") Above the shield is the state military crest: a bent arm holding a broadsword aloft. The sword has its blade up, to remind that it was through the American Revolution that liberty was won.
The state flag was officially adopted in 1908, but had been used unofficially since the American Revolution. This flag included on its reverse the blue shield from the coat of arms containing the green pine tree of the ensign of the Massachusetts State Navy. In 1971 the design was simplified by making it the same on both sides.