New Hampshire Debates Welcome-Sign Slogan By ANNE SAUNDERS, Associated Press Writer
Thu Apr 6, 6:13 PM ET
New Hampshire seems to be suffering from a bit of an identity crisis. First, the Old Man of the Mountain — the stern, granite profile that graces license plates and quarters — fell off its cliff, crumbling to bits. Then, in an effort to bring some consistency to a jumble of highway welcome signs, the state moved to install new ones reading, "You're going to love it here."
But lots of people — including the governor — hate them.
A proposal to replace "love it" with the state's official motto, "Live Free or Die," which has been on New Hampshire's license plates for decades, has widespread support in the Legislature. But some people would rather see something a little less, well, belligerent.
"I think that's an in-your-face motto. It's misinterpreted. It's out of context. That's not who we are," said state Rep. Tim Robertson, a Democrat.
Robertson is among many who prefer an older version of the highway sign that advertised "Scenic New Hampshire."
The "You're going to love it here" slogan was developed by a Portsmouth ad agency a couple of years ago for the state's tourism division and is widely used on its promotional materials. Communications manager Victoria Cimino said no one complained until the phrase popped up on the highway signs.
Highway welcome signs vary around the state. Some say, "Welcome to the Granite State." Others offer a welcome in French and English. One older sign on Interstate 89 has "Live Free or Die."
"Live free or die" is said to have been uttered during an 1809 toast by New Hampshire's most distinguished Revolutionary War hero, Gen. John Stark. Many like the bite and the history behind the phrase. After all, this is a state that has a "Right of revolution" still written into its constitution.
If the House passes the bill requiring "Live Free or Die" to appear on all state highway welcome signs, Gov. John Lynch will sign it.
"It's a part of who we are and part of our history, heritage and culture and I think that is what people should see as they come across our borders," he said.
In keeping with another Yankee attribute — frugality — the governor has proposed covering the state's six "love it" signs with a sheet metal panel featuring the state motto, rather than pay for new signs. The state's 37 other welcome signs would be replaced as they age with ones featuring "Live Free or Die."
Hmm, as a former New Hampshire resident I have to say that "You're going to love it here" sucks big time, and putting promotional copy on a state entrance sign is like putting an advertisement to "Shop at Walmart" inside the Walmart, selling to the sold. As promotional Scenic New Hampshire works better than any of the others, at least reminding people that there are sights to see. I think Granite state was what they had in my area when I lived there, but it is probably a small minority of visitors who are coming there to get granite. "Live Free or Die" is a little in your face, but at least it isn't completely vapid like the "You're going to love it here".
And I do love the last bit about frugality.
Then again, if you consider the reason most people cross the border into New Hampshire, maybe the motto should be "Shop at New Hampshire! Still no sales tax!" I think most of the time we went deeper into New Hampshire (I lived in Hanover on the border) it was to go to an outlet store (or, you know, out to dinner).
Yeah, we kids always used to gather up our soda cans in New Hampshire that we bought there and bike over to Vermont where they had the better deposits to return them. I'm sure the college students at Dartmouth did the same thing with their beer cans.
Welcome To New Hampshire! Fireworks, Tax-Free Goods, Liquor and Tattoos!
Ok, maybe not the last one now that MA has legalized tattooing. (Finally.) We used to run up to Winchester every weekend so my dad could buy cheap beer and cigarettes. And, um, visit my aunt who lived there. Really.