While the rest of the world throws a party, I decided to open up a book and discover some of the history behind a few of our national symbols. I guess I thought that, growing up in America, I knew all about the Statue of Liberty, the American Flag, the Liberty Bell, the Declaration of Independence . . . . but I was always kind of curious about ol’ Uncle Sam. So I started reading, and researching, and Googling and found some pretty interesting stuff. For this week’s Home Matters Linky Party #190 theme, July 4th Celebrations, my curiosity just got the best of me and here’s what I discovered . . . . #July4th #4thofJuly #HomeMattersParty
from Celebrating Holidays
“A thoughtful mind when it sees a nation’s flag, sees not the flag, but the nation itself. And whatever may be its symbols, its insignia, he reads chiefly in the flag, the government, the principles, the truths, the history that belongs to the nation that sets it forth. The American flag has been a symbol of Liberty and men rejoiced in it.”
— Henry Ward Beecher
This article features a brief history of the various flags that have been symbolic of our nation throughout its history: Early American Flags, Grand Union, The First Official Flag, The Betsy Ross Flag, The Star Spangled Banner, and The Stars and Stripes, as well as a reference to the Pledge of Allegiance. It was really interesting to see the development of our flag through different periods of history and begin to understand a bit more about what our flag has represented to Americans over the decades.
Declaration of Independence image via The National Archives.
from A Merry Mom
Among the many interesting facts that I discovered about America’s “birthday” on this website, is this detail that I’m sure I read about somewhere along the line but had forgotten:
Despite the U.S. declaration of its freedom in 1776, the Revolutionary War continued until the British surrendered after the Siege of Yorktown on October 19, 1781. The The Treaty of Paris was later signed by representatives from the United States and Great Britain on September 3, 1783 to mark the official end of the conflict.
Stop by A Merry Mom to read even more fun facts about the 4th of July!
from the Liberty Ellis Foundation
Image via US Immigration
Here’s one more symbol of America that I thought I knew all about . . . until I read the actual history of the Statue of Liberty from the Liberty Ellis Foundation website. I knew that it was a gift from France but there is much more to the story of the creation, transport, building, and symbolism that is quite fascination. You can read all about it on the Liberty Ellis Foundation website.
from Celebrating Holidays
Most people have grown up believing that immediately following the signing of the Declaration of Independence, news of freedom was proclaimed by the ringing of the Liberty Bell in the steeple of the Philadelphia State House. This legend has been traced back to a 1847 fictional story written by George Lippard for The Saturday Currier in which an elderly bellman waits in the State House steeple for word as to whether or not Congress will declare independence. As the old man begins to doubt Congress’ resolve, his grandson, who had been eavesdropping at the doors of the State House, yells, “Ring, Grandfather! Ring!”
Apparently this is a great story, but according to this website, that’s not quite the way it happened. But the Liberty Bell is such a powerful symbol of American freedom and independence, that it is still held in high esteem by all Americans. Read the rest of the story at Celebrating Holidays.
The History and Symbolism of Uncle Sam
from Celebrating Holidays
The first recorded account of how the nickname came to be associated with Sam Wilson appeared in the Book of the Navy (1842). The author, John Frost, recalls having read the story elsewhere, most likely in a newspaper, but the source has not been found. The story follows.
During the war of 1812, an army contractor by the name of Elbert Anderson of New York traveled to Troy to purchase barrels of pork and beef from the Wilson meat company. Sam Wilson oversaw a large number of workers who were busily moving barrels for the army. The barrels were apparently marked E.A. – U.S., and when one of the workers asked another fellow employ the meaning of the initials, he was told that they must stand for Elbert Anderson and “Uncle Sam” (clearly a reference to his boss). The joke stuck, and as many of these workers ended up serving in the war, they carried the story with them. (John Frost, The Book of the Navy, D. Appleton & Co., 1842, pp. 297-298).
According to Celebrating Holidays, this is the original account of “Uncle Sam,” but there is so much more to the story!
Tradition holds that the name “Uncle Sam” is connected to a real person by the name of Sam Wilson. Born in Arlington, Massachusetts, in 1768, most of Sam’s childhood would have been during the Revolutionary War. Around 1789, Sam moved to Troy and became a prominent business man who was active in political affairs.
You can read the rest of the story, including some fascinating historical research into the origin of “Uncle Sam” on the Celebrating Holidays website.
The History and Symbolism of the Bald Eagle
from Celebrating Holidays
The Bald Eagle became a national emblem of the United States on June 20, 1782, the day the design was chosen for the Great Seal of our country. The magnificent creature can now be found with outstretched wings on coins, bills, and stamps.
There is so much more to all of these stories, and if you are interested in reading more, please visit the websites that are linked to and below each image. I really learned a lot about these symbols that we see so prominently displayed, especially on the Fourth of July. What are you going to be doing this year on the Fourth? I’m sure we’ll be here at home, having burgers on the grill and hanging out on our deck. We will watch the fireworks from our front yard, where we can see them being shot off from the village park. We celebrate our country every day of the year, and we are truly grateful to God for the privilege of living in “the home of the free because of the brave.” Thank you to all who have served our nation, to keep us safe from all those who would seek to harm us. God bless America!
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Red, White & Blue Cherry Almond Cookies from Tracey @ The Kitchen Is My Playground
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