RALEIGH – North Carolina license plates come with one of two phrases emblazoned on their background; ‘First in Flight,’ or ‘First in Freedom.’ Now there will be a third option for drivers in the Old North State to have the national motto — In God We Trust — atop the plate, and the state motto — To Be Rather Than To Seem — on the bottom.
The North Carolina DMV says drivers can request the new plates when they renew their registration at no additional charge. A law passed in the General Assembly in 2018 directed the DMV to create this option, and it will likely be popular. Of course, some Lefties are bound to whine about the separation of church and state.
‘In God We Trust’ is printed on our currency and many other seals. It’s message is simple. The motto of North Carolina, though, is a little more nuanced.
As far as mottoes to reflect the character and beliefs of the citizens of a state, Esse Quam Videri (To Be Rather Than To Seem) is instructive in both the pursuit of virtuous government and individual life.
The motto was adopted by statute in 1893 by the state legislature, being one of the last states to do so. The phrase is quoted from Cicero’s essay on friendship (Cicero, de Amnicitia, Chapter 26), in which the Roman philosopher described the distinction of having virtue versus merely being thought to posses it. To actually be virtuous and driven by our founding principles, more than merely seeming so, is the highest goal of any government or for any people or individuals for that matter.