United States Symbols

The United States, despite its relative short lifetime as a country, has already developed a rich cultural iconography. From its flag to its crest, the American spirit of freedom and independence shines through everywhere.

The best known American symbol, of course, is the US flag. Designed with 13 stripes for the first 13 states and a changing number of stars for all the states in the union, the flag is an iconic symbol of America. The flag is displayed more often and often more proudly than in many other countries, standing as a symbol of American patriotism. One American flag, of course, stands on the surface of the Moon, a further marker of American pride. Interestingly, the coat of arms of the US does not bear a true flag - while the eagle is bearing a shield patterned like it, there are no stars in the blue portion, and the outside stripes are white to prevent a violation of the rules of heraldry.

The bald eagle is another major symbol of the United States. The founders of the nation sought to establish a connection between their new nation and the Roman Republic, which was often connected to and symbolized by the eagle. In addition, the eagle is often used in heraldry as a symbol of freedom, power, and royalty. Despite rumors, Benjamin Franklin did not in fact argue for the turkey in its place - the comparison was brought up in a totally different context, to disparage a group of Americans that were seeking to act like European nobles. The official seal of the United States now bears a bald eagle holding an olive branch in one hand and a bundle of arrows in the other. An urban legend states that the eagle is turned to face the olive branch in times of peace and the arrows in times of war.

While many countries have a personification, Uncle Sam, the human form of the United States, is an especially popular one. Originally used in the war of 1812, the figure is now known worldwide as the face of America, superseding precedents like Brother Jonathon and Columbia. Uncle Sam is generally shown in clothes in some way mimicking the flag, along with a top hat. The most famous image of Uncle Sam, in which he is looking at the viewer and pointing at them, was designed by James Montgomery Flagg and then gained popularity nationwide as a symbol for recruitment.

While America is still a young nation, her symbols and iconography are already diverse. In the years to come, perhaps other symbols will become part of the American consciousness overall.