When Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne was sworn into office Nov. 22, he did so under a redesigned Louisiana state flag, which had three scarlet dots added to the breast of the pelican, which is depicted feeding its chicks with her own blood. According to the Sierra Club, the ancients had a fable about a pelican performing the act of self-sacrifice to nourish her babies, and the imagery (with its Christian implications) carried through to Louisiana's heraldry.
During the 20th century, various versions of the state flag had the blood droplets while others did not, but the change was made permanent by then-Gov. Kathleen Blanco's signature in May 2006. The impetus? Joseph Louviere, a Houma teenager, researched the state flag for a school project and brought his findings to Rep. Damon Baldone, who drafted House Bill 833 to make the change state law.
The heraldic blood also will be added to the pelican on the Louisiana state seal, but the 2006 legislation says nothing about changing the existing flags or seals. Old flags and seals thus continue to be perfectly good and commonly used. — Kevin Allman