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 Algonquian Native American with bow and arrow; the arrow is pointed downward, signifying peace. A white star with five points appears next to the figure's head, signifying Massachusetts' admission as the sixth U.S. 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: the 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 1901, but had been used unofficially since the American Revolution of the ensign of the Massachusetts State Navy. In 1971 the earlier pine tree was replaced by the current design.
In April 1776, the Massachusetts Navy adopted the Pine Tree Flag as its naval ensign, consisting of a white field charged with a green pine tree and the motto "An Appeal to Heaven." In 1971 the motto was removed, and the flag was designated "the naval and maritime flag of the Commonwealth". Massachusetts is one of only three states with its own maritime ensign (the other two are Maine and Texas).