America prides itself on being the land of the free and the home of the brave that has a good quality of life for its population, a democratic government, and a powerful business sector. It is hard to say what, exactly, defines America since America is a composition of many different cultures and industries and places. Is America found in country music or blues? Is it in the numerous accents found across the states or the lifestyles of our citizens? Is it how the government and departments are elected and systematized? Is it how we interact with the rest of the world and do business within our own nation? Is it all of these things, none of them, or more? It is impossible to say since the essence of an entire nation is philosophical in nature and might have no one defining feature. Although pin-pointing what being truly “All American” actually means can be quite difficult, there are certain symbols that are instantly and indisputably connected to the United States. Below is a list of three of the most famous symbols of America.
The American Flag
The American flag is one of the most recognizable and uniquely designed flags in the world. The current American flag has thirteen horizontal stripes of alternating red and white colors (the stripes represent the 13 original British colonies that declared independence from Britain). In the upper left-hand side of the flag is a blue rectangle with 50 white stars embedded in it representing each of the 50 states. The original American flag had only 13 stars (representing 13 states) that formed a circle within the blue section of the flag. Rumors have long credited Betsy Ross with having designed the first flag, although no indisputable evidence of this exists. However, it is generally regarded as accurate to say that the colors of the American flag—red, white, and blue—mirror those of the flag of Great Britain due to the fact that those hues were probably the easiest colors to find in 18th century America. The second flag was designed by 17-year-old Robert G. Heft in 1958 who was still in high school at the time!
The Mount Rushmore National Memorial is a sculpture that is carved into the mountains of Keystone, South Dakota. Mount Rushmore features 60-foot tall depictions of four famous United States Presidents: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and Theodore Roosevelt. Mount Rushmore was sculpted by Gutzon Borglum, a Danish-American, and his son, Lincoln, between the years of 1927 and 1941. The entire artwork covers 1,278 acres of land. Despite the dangerous terrain and sizable project, the sculpture was completed with no fatalities—usually regarded as something of a miracle. Mount Rushmore is an incredibly popular tourist attraction and it is one of the most recognizable pieces of artwork in both America and the world. Every year, thousands of people—sometimes close to a million—travel to Keystone, South Dakota, just to get a glimpse of this incredible piece of Americana. It is an especially popular attraction during the annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally that rides through the National Park every August.
Statue of Liberty
The Statue of Liberty is one of the most and iconic statues in the world. It is a symbol of New York in particular and an ode to the history of immigration that resulted in most of America’s current population. The Statue of Liberty depicts a woman wearing a crown holding a torch up toward the air and holding a tablet near her heart. “The New Colossus” sonnet by an American poet named Emma Lazarus (1849-1887) is engraved in the statue. The Statue of Liberty was presented to America by France on October 28, 1886 and served as a welcoming symbol to immigrants arriving from overseas. The Statue of Liberty is located extremely close to Ellis Island and it was that first sight that many immigrants saw upon reaching their new homeland. The Statue of Liberty is a popular tourist attraction in New York City and for decades visitors were welcome to explore observatories on the crown and torch segments of the statue. Unfortunately, safety issues caused the closing of the arm and torch of the statue and damage from Hurricane Sandy in 2012 caused tours to the island to be suspended. However, the Statue of Liberty is currently under construction and is scheduled to be re-opening to the public by July 4, 2013!