"Sharing can be a way of healing. Grief and loss can isolate,
anger even alienate. Shared with others, emotions unite
as we see we aren't alone. We realize others weep with us."
~Susan Wittig Albert

Through our writing, we walk out of the darkness into the light
together, one small step at a time, recording history, educating
America, and we are healing.
~CJ/Todd Dierdorff

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

American Symbols of Freedom

[Symbolnoun: an object representing something, or something that stands for an object]

In America, there are several symbols that have come to represent our Country, our Pride, and our Freedom. Here is a look at our most revered and celebrated:

Our Flag Through the Years

Old Glory: Our Flag

On June 14, 1777, at Philadelphia, the Marine Committee of the Second Continental Congress offered the resolution which resulted in the adoption of the Flag of the United States.  

According to the Department of State:
Red stands for hardiness and courage
White is the symbol of purity and innocence
Blue is the color of vigilance, perseverance, and justice
As new states were admitted it became evident that the number of stripes in the flag would have to be limited.

Congress ordered that after July 4, 1818, the flag should always have thirteen stripes, symbolizing the thirteen original states; the union would have twenty stars, and that a new star should be added on the July 4th following the admission of a new state.

The permanent arrangement of the stars is not designated, and no star is specifically identified with any state. Since 1912, following the admission of a new state, the new design has been announced by executive order.

The original resolution read: "Resolved: that the flag of the United States be made of thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new constellation."

The Bald Eagle
 The Bald Eagle

In 1787, the newly formed United States adopted as its emblem a bald Eagle with wings that are outspread.  

Congress chose this magnificent bird for several reasons, one being that the bald eagle is found only in North America, which makes it a true "All-American."  

The Eagle is shown with a shield on its breast, an olive branch in one foot, and a sheaf of arrows in the other foot.

When the Eagle is placed on the American coat-of-arms it carries a scroll in its beak bearing the Latin words “E Pluribus Unum”, meaning "one out of many".

The first Eagle on an American coin appeared on a Massachusetts penny in 1776.

National Anthem

The words were written in 1814 by Francis Scott Key, who had been inspired by the sight of the American flag still flying over Fort McHenry after a night of heavy British bombardment.

The text was immediately set to a popular melody of the time, "To Anacreon in Heaven."

The National Anthem consists of four verses. On almost every occasion only the first verse is sung.
“Oh, say can you see by the dawn's early light
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars thru the perilous fight,
O'er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming?
And the rockets' red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.
Oh, say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?”

Liberty Bell

The Liberty Bell

The Liberty Bell rang out as a sign of freedom when the Declaration of Independence was read publicly  for the first time in July of 1776. It has now become one of America's most treasured symbols.

The bell, weighing close to 2000 pounds, arrived in the colony of  Pennsylvania in the year 1752.  It came from England where it was cast, mostly from copper and tin.

The bell cracked immediately after its arrival, but a new bell was soon made from the same metal. The second bell was also flawed, and it too soon cracked.  The metal was again used to make a third bell.  On this bell is written the inscription:

"Proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof..."

In 1846, a small crack in this third bell began to spread and required repair. After patching it, the bell was rung for the last time on February 23, 1846, in honor of George Washington's birthday.

The bell was made for the Pennsylvania State House, which is now known as Independence Hall.  Today it is located in a monument called the Liberty Bell Pavilion, in Philadelphia.

Visitors from all over the United States and from around the world visit the bell when they travel to historic Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Every 4th of July the Liberty Bell is tapped - not actually rung.

The Pledge of Allegiance
I pledge allegiance to the flag
of the United States of America
and to the Republic for which it stands.
One nation under God, indivisible,
with liberty and justice for all.
The original Pledge of Allegiance was written by Francis Bellamy. It was first given wide publicity through the official program of the National Public Schools Celebration of Columbus Day which was printed in The Youth's Companion of September 8, 1892, and at the same time sent out in leaflet form to schools throughout the country. 

School children first recited the Pledge of Allegiance this way: 
"I pledge allegiance to my Flag
and to the Republic for which it stands
one Nation indivisible,
with Liberty and Justice for all."

"The flag of the United States" replaced the words "my Flag" in 1923 because some foreign-born people might have in mind the flag of the country of their birth instead of the United States flag. A year later, "of America" was added after "United States."

No form of the Pledge received official recognition by Congress until June 22, 1942, when the Pledge was formally included in the U.S. Flag Code. The official name of The Pledge of Allegiance was adopted in 1945. The last change in language came on Flag Day 1954, when Congress passed a law, which added the words "under God" after "one nation."

Originally, the pledge was said with the right hand in the so-called "Bellamy Salute," with the right hand resting first outward from the chest, then the arm extending out from the body.

Once Hitler came to power in Europe, some Americans were concerned that this position of the arm and hand resembled the Nazi or Fascist salute.

In 1942 Congress also established the current practice of rendering the pledge with the right hand over the heart.  The Flag Code specifies that any future changes to the pledge would have to be with the consent of the President.

Statue of Liberty

Statue of Liberty

The Statue of Liberty is a national monument.  Often referred to as "Lady Liberty," her full name is "Liberty Enlightening the World."  She is a symbol of freedom and international friendship.

She was a gift, given to the people of the United States in 1886, from the people of France.  The French gave this gift of friendship to honor 100 years of independence for the United States.
The magnificent Statue of Liberty stands 151 feet tall.

In her left hand she holds a law book with July 4, 1776, the date of the Declaration of Independence, inscribed on its cover. 
In her right hand she holds a torch which represents enlightenment, or understanding.
At her feet are broken chains which symbolize liberty and crushing the chains of slavery.
The statue, located in New York Harbor, became a symbol of welcome for  immigrants coming to America.  For people from around the world she offered hope and freedom.

A poem entitled "The New Colossus" is mounted on the base of the statue.  Part of it reads:
"Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me.
I lift my lamp beside the golden door."

Uncle Sam

Uncle Sam

Uncle Sam has come to symbolize the United States government and the spirit of our country.
The most famous picture of Uncle Sam was first printed on a magazine cover in July of 1916.  This picture then became a popular Army recruiting poster during World War I and again in World War II.
Through the years Uncle Sam has been portrayed by many artists, illustrators, and cartoonists.  Certain characteristics however have always remained the same.  

Uncle Sam is always shown wearing the United States' colors; red, white, and blue. He is usually portrayed as a tall man with white hair and goatee wearing a top hat.

Many believe that the character of Uncle Sam was based on Samuel Wilson who lived in Troy, NY during the War of 1812.  Samuel Wilson was in the meat packing business.  His company sold barrels of beef and pork to the United States Army.  These barrels were stamped with the letters US to show that they were to be used by the United States government.
The residents of Troy were proud of their local businessman, Samuel Wilson, and his contribution to the US Army.  They began to say that the initials U.S. stood for "Uncle Sam" Wilson.  As the nickname spread, Uncle Sam became a popular symbol of the United States.

The United States Congress passed a resolution in 1961, recognizing Samuel Wilson of Troy, NY as the man behind the idea for Uncle Sam.

Lady Liberty

Lady of Justice

Representations of the Lady of Justice in the Western tradition occur in many places and at many times. 

She sometimes wears a blindfold, more so in Europe, but more often she appears without one. 

She usually carries a sword and scales. 

Almost always draped in flowing robes, mature but not old, she symbolizes the fair and equal administration of the law, without corruption, avarice, prejudice, or favor.

“I am only one, but I am one. I can't do everything, but I can do something. The something I ought to do, I can do, and by the grace of God, I will.” ~Everett Hale

Do you have an opinion, or a comment, you would like to share about this post? Click on the comment button.


  1. I just wanted to thank you for what you do here at your blog. I manage a Facebook community that is following the transformation of a Huey, that crashed in 1968 in Vietnam, into a contemporary piece of art. The Huey is being transformed into a canvas for sobering stories from the Vietnam War. I follow, and share, your blog content on our page. Thank you.

    1. Thank you most sincerely, Debra. I wish you much success with your Facebook community and I would love to follow along with the transformation of the Huey. Please keep me informed!


Feel free to comment.