Missouri Makes the ‘Jumping Jack’ the Official State Exercise

by Ryan Lovelace

Missouri has made the “jumping jack” the official exercise of the State of Missouri. After six years, state representative Pat Conway succeeded in passing the legislation he has introduced five separate times, according to a report from the Kansas City Star.

State officials designated the exercise in honor of General John Pershing, the Missourian credited with creating it at West Point, where he used the exercise to “haze” younger cadets as a cadet captain in 1885. Pershing was promoted to the highest rank in the U.S. Army as General of Armies, until Congress retroactively promoted George Washington to the same rank, but with greater seniority. The creation of the official state exercise was personal for Conway, whose father served under Pershing in World War I; and the children of John J. Pershing elementary had supported the measure for several years. Conway said he thinks the reason his bill passed this time was because he presented the legislation as a way of honoring Pershing and other veterans, and this year marks the centennial of the beginning of World War I.       

But the bill to make the “jumping jack” the official state exercise of Missouri ran into a roadblock in the state senate. State senator Ryan Silvey described himself as “the Grinch of state symbols” to the Star, and said, “I don’t know that we need to be adding to the statutes as a civics lesson.” Silvey took issue with whether adding another state symbol was a “legitimate public policy issue.” He said he became fed up with state symbols after lawmakers spent an hour debating the designation of a state mushroom. The “Show-Me State” has more than two dozen official symbols, including the state instrument (the fiddle) and the state dinosaur (Hypsibema missouriensis). But Missouri is not the only state to designate an official state exercise—Maryland beat them to it. The official Maryland state exercise is walking, and has been since 2008.


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