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American Symbols

Most Americans share a belief in democracy and freedom as well as pride in the historic places and monuments that symbolize these beliefs.

Statue of Liberty

The Statue of Liberty is a huge sculpture that is located on Liberty Island in New York Harbor.

This monument was a gift to the USA from the people of France in recognition of

the French-American alliance during the American Revolution.

The formal name of the statue is "Liberty Enlightening the World."

It depicts a woman who is escaping the chains of tyranny (the broken chains lie at her feet).

In her right hand she holds a torch that is a symbol of liberty. Her left hand holds a tablet

inscribed with the date "July 4, 1776" (in Roman numerals), the day the United States declared

its independence from England. She is wearing flowing robes and the seven rays of her spiked crown symbolize the seven seas and continents.

Liberty was designed by the French sculptor Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi . The hollow copper statue was built in France - it was finished in July, 1884. It was brought to the USA in 350 pieces on a French ship in June, 1885. The statue was re-assembled in the USA and was completed on October 28, 1886.

Near the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor is Ellis Island. This island served as an immigrant station and a temporary shelter for people who came to the U.S. from other countries seeking refuge, freedom and opportunity. The main building on Ellis Island is now a museum dedicated to the history of the Ellis Island Immigration Station.


The Flag

On June 14, 1777, the Continental Congress passed the first Flag Act, which said that the flagwould be made up of thirteen red and white stripes and thirteen white stars on a blue field. Stars have been added to the flag as new states join the union. Currently, the flag contains 50 stars. The stars on the flag represent the states of the United States of America and the 13 stripes represent the thirteen British colonies that declared independence from the United Kingdom and became the first states in the Union. 

Why is the flag red, white, and blue?

  • White means purity and innocence

  • Red means bravery

  • Blue means justice

Why stars and stripes?

  • Stars are considered a symbol of the heavens;

  • the stripe is a symbol of the rays from the sun.

Nicknames for the flag include the "Stars and Stripes", ”Old Glory” and "the Star- Spangled Banner".


The Bald Eagle

The bald eagle is a large, powerful, brown bird with a white head and tail.

The bald eagle was made the national bird of the United States in 1782.

Why was the bald eagle chosen as our national symbol?

The Founding Fathers wanted to choose an animal that was unique to

he United States. After six years of debates the bald eagle was chosen because it symbolized strength, courage, freedom, and immortality.

Since 1600’s, when Europeans first arrived on the North American continent, populations of bald eagles have dropped for many reasons. In 1967, the bald eagle was included on the Endangered Species List. Federal laws, such as the Bald Eagle Protection Act, protect the bald eagle and have led to the recovery of bald eagle populations. In 2007, populations have improved and the bald eagle was removed from the list.


The Liberty Bell

The Liberty Bell is a huge bronze bell that rang when the Continental Congress signed

the Declaration of Independence and has become the symbol of freedom

in the United States.

The bell was originally cast in 1752 in London, England.

It was commissioned as a bell for the Pennsylvania State House

(now called Independence Hall).

The bell was originally called the State House Bell or the Province Bell.

The bell was first called the Liberty Bell around 1839 by abolitionist (anti-slavery) publications. The bell first cracked during a test ringing. After cracking, the bell was recast twice in 1753. The restored bell was probably rung at the first public reading of the Declaration of Independence in Philadelphia (on July 8, 1776). It rang on every July 4th and to announce many important events in early American history, including Presidential elections and deaths, until 1846.It is uncertain how the bell came to be cracked; the damage occurred sometime between 1817 and 1846. Today, the Liberty Bell hangs in Philadelphia at the Liberty Bell Pavilion on Market Street for all to see and is still gently rung each July 4th.

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