While watching the different Fourth of July celebrations unfold over the weekend, my curiosity was piqued. Why are American colors red, white and blue? What is the history behind the Statue of Liberty besides what little I do know?
So, I started to do a little digging. I think that we can learn a lot about American culture and history from American imagery. It’s important for ever American to know. There is truly a meaning to everything that symbolizes the nation and liberty we hold dear.
So, here are a few fun and enlightening facts about American symbols that I think every American should know.
Red, White and Blue?
On this past Saturday, I did truly wonder. Why red, white and blue? Was there an intention behind those colors?
So, apparently, at first, the red, white and blue colors were selected for no particular reason—other than maybe they were the colors the Americans had been exposed to by the British.
However, in 1782, the Secretary of Congress, Charles Thompson detailed why the American colors are red, white and blue.
Red: a symbol of valor and bravery
White: white symbolizes purity and innocence
Blue: vigilance, perseverance, and justice.
And in the words of Thompson, “The colours of the pales are those used in the flag of the United States of America; White signifies purity and innocence, Red, hardiness & valour, and Blue, the colour of the Chief signifies vigilance, perseverance & justice. The Olive branch and arrows denote the power of peace & war which is exclusively vested in Congress. The Constellation denotes a new State taking its place and rank among other sovereign powers. The Escutcheon is born on the breast of an American Eagle without any other supporters to denote that the United States of America ought to rely on their own Virtue”.
So, America is supposed to be vigilant, just, pure and innocent and brave.
The eagle has been the “national bird” since the “Great” seal was presented to Congress in 1782 by Thompson. As he describes, the olive branch and arrows held in the eagles talons are representative of peace and war.
The founders, as they did about almost every topic, fought rather bitterly about what the emblem for the United States should be. They finally agreed upon the eagle but not everyone was happy about it. Benjamin Franklin in a letter to a friend, said:
“I wish the bald eagle had not been chosen as the representative of our country; he is a bird of bad moral character; like those among men who live by sharping and robbing, he is generally poor, and often very lousy. The turkey is a much more respectable bird and withal a true, original native of America.”
However, the bald eagle (native only to North America) was chosen as both the national bird and the emblem for the United States. It now appears on the president’s flag, the mace of the House of Representatives, military insignia, and billions of one-dollar bills.
It signifies what many consider to be courage, bravery, strength, and freedom.
While I cannot find much evidence to support this hunch, something tells me that the eagle was chosen not just to symbolize strength and freedom but because it was also the national bird for another great Republican empire—one that our founders learned from and one that influenced much of the design and makeup of American government: Rome.
Read the following quote about the eagle: “The national symbol of the ancient empire of Rome was the eagle. The eagle, the strongest and most aggressive of the birds, dominated the skies. It could fly higher and swoop down faster than any other bird, picking off its prey with little or no resistance. It was a fitting symbol of Roman power.”
The American founders were heavily influenced by the Roman Republic as they created the American Republic. Consider the architecture of our government buildings if you need any evidence. Therefore, it would come as no surprise to me that the eagle became America’s national bird and a part of the Great Seal because of its Roman roots.
America was created to be strong, to be brave, and to be free…much like the eagle and much like ancient Rome.
The Statue of Liberty
France and the United States both built different parts of the The Statue of Liberty as a sign of friendship between the two nations. It was created to celebrate America’s centennial birthday on 1876. The statue was originally referred to as the “Liberty Enlightening the World”.
America agreed to make the pedestal and France agreed to make the statue itself. Frederic Auguste Bartholdi and Alexandre Gustave Eiffel (yes, the designer of the Eiffel Tower) designed the massive copper statue. The statue did not officially arrive and get set up until 1886, ten years later than the original centennial plan. But, it did come right before the centennial anniversary of the ratification of the Constitution—which is perhaps even more important.
The most important take away from the Statue of Liberty is that it is a constant reminder to everyone that America stands for liberty. She is a robed Roman goddess (again, Rome) of liberty and she holds in one hand a torch. The torch symbolizes enlightenment. America is supposed to pave the way for liberty. She is enlightening the world by showing the world the greatness of liberty.
The statue holds in her left hand a tablet of law with the date America declared her independence. It is inscribed in Roman numerals (July IV, MDCCLXXVI).
Millions upon millions of immigrants have come to America through Ellis Island which is right next to the Statue of Liberty. They’ve come with the hopes of living a free life, a life of liberty. America has and still does offer that liberty, the enlightening path to liberty, to millions around the world.
No other country in the world has a Statue of Liberty to symbolize that liberty is the key principle for which the nation stands.
How long until the progressive left and those that are against true liberty, as I spoke about in a recent post, start going after her?
There are many other important details about American imagery that I will review at some point, but for today, I hope that I’ve given you some refreshing, reinvigorating and interesting information that causes you to better understand the little details that make up our national heritage.
In this day and age when so much of the core of who our country is and what she stands for is lost in the tempest of masks and riots, it’s important to remember and learn from things as simple as the eagle, the statue and the colors of America.
America is supposed to be brave. She’s supposed to be valiant. She’s supposed to be pure, and just. She’s supposed to be vigilant, and most of all, she’s supposed to be free.
The Liberty Belle