Symbols of U.S.
The U.S. flag has undergone many changes since the first official flag of 1777. On June 14,
1777, the Continental Congress passed the first Flag Act, which said that the flag would be
made up of thirteen alternating 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
Ever wonder why the flag is red, white, and blue? While the flag's colors did not have a specific
meaning at the time, the colors were significant for the Great Seal of 1782.
White: Signifies purity and innocence
Red: Signifies valor and bravery
Blue: Signifies Vigilance, perseverance, and justice
Why stars and stripes? Stars are considered a symbol of the heavens and the divine goal to
which man has aspired from time immemorial; the stripe is symbolic of the rays of light
emanating from the sun.
1. When was the first flag made? _____________________________________________________
2. Why are there 50 stars on the flag? _________________________________________________
3. Describe what the colors red, white, and blue stand for.
4. What are the stars a symbol of? ____________________________________________________
5. What are the stripes a symbol of? __________________________________________________
Color the background
of the stars blue.
Leave the stars white.
Color the first stripe
red, the second stripe
white and keep
Symbols of U.S. Government:
The Bald Eagle
The bald eagle is a large, powerful, brown bird with a white head and tail. The term
"bald" does not mean that this bird lacks feathers. Instead, it comes from the word
piebald, an old word, meaning "marked with white."
The bald eagle was made the national bird of the United States in 1782. The image of
the bald eagle can be found in many places in the U.S., such as on the Great Seal,
Federal agency seals, the President's flag, and on the one-dollar bill.
Why was the bald eagle chosen as our national symbol?
The Founding Fathers wanted to choose an animal that was
unique to the United States. For six years, the members of
Congress engaged in a dispute over what the national
emblem should be. As a result of the debate, the bald eagle
was chosen because it symbolized strength, courage,
freedom, and immortality and that it would look much better
as our national symbol.
When Europeans first arrived on the North American
continent in the 1600's, there were an estimated 25,000 to
50,000 bald eagles, but populations have since dropped for many reasons. Many
eagles were captured for getting too close to poultry or fishing nets; some were
captured for falconry; and many eagles were poisoned by pesticides. 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 the bald eagle was removed
from the list.
1. What does the term “bald” mean in the name “bald eagle”? _______________________
2. Where are three places that the image of the bald eagle can be found? ______________
3. Why was the bald eagle chosen as our national symbol? __________________________
4. Why had the number of bald eagles dropped since the 1600’s? ____________________
Symbols of U.S. Government:
The Liberty Bell
Cast in London, England in 1752, the Liberty Bell rang when the Continental Congress signed the
Declaration of Independence and has become the symbol of freedom in the United States. The bell
weighs about 2000 pounds and is made mostly of copper (70%) and tin (25%).
Made for the Pennsylvania State House (now Independence
Hall), the Liberty Bell was ordered by the Pennsylvania
Assembly in 1751 to commemorate the 50-year anniversary of
William Penn's 1701 Charter of Privileges. Shortly after its
arrival in Philadelphia the Bell cracked. Local craftsmen recast
the bell using the metal from the old bell, but this one also
proved defective. A third was cast by John Pass and John
Stowe. Their names appear on the bell, along with the city and
date, along with this inscription:
"Proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants
thereof - Lev. XXV, v. x. By order of the Assembly of the
Province of Pensylvania [sic] for the State House in Philada.
NOTE: The spelling of "Pennsylvania" was not at that time
universally adopted. Pensylvania was an accepted alternative
spelling throughout the 1700's.
On June 7, 1753, the bell was hung in the tower of
Independence Hall; however, during the American Revolution, in 1777, British troops captured
Philadelphia. For safekeeping, the bell was moved to Zion's Reformed Church in Allentown,
Pennsylvania. It was returned to Philadelphia in 1778.
As tradition, the bell was rung on every July 4th and on every state occasion until 1846. Not everyone
agrees on when the first crack appeared on the Liberty Bell, but by 1846 a thin crack began to affect the
sound of the bell. It was repaired so the bell could be tolled for Washington's birthday on February 23,
1846. In order to repair the bell, a slot was carved along the length of the crack that prevented the two
sides of the bell from vibrating against each other. Two rivets were inserted in this slot to control the
vibration of the two sides and restored the bell's tonal quality.
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.
1. What is the Liberty Bell a symbol of? __________________________________________
2. When is the bell rung? _____________________________________________________
3. Where is the Liberty Bell today? _____________________________________________
The White House
Located at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, DC, the White House is one of the most popular
tourist attractions in the country. The White House has been the official residence of all the presidents of
the United States with the exception of George Washington. Washington served from 1789 to 1797. By
the time the White House was completed in 1800, John Adams was President. The house was rebuilt and
restored after it was burned by the British in August 1814.
The White House has six floors--two basements, two public floors, and two floors for the First Family.
Visitors who tour the White House are able to see the most beautiful and historic rooms in the house
including the East Room, the Green Room, the Blue Room, the Red Room, and the State Dining Room.
These rooms are used by the President and First Lady to entertain guests and to receive leaders of other
countries. The Oval Office is where the President does the business of the country--signing bills and
Executive Orders and meeting with staff, visitors, and guests.
1. Who was the only president that didn’t live in the White House and why? ____________
2. What do the president and first lady do in the special rooms of the White House?
3. What does the president do in the Oval Office? _________________________________
The Statue of Liberty
Located in New York, at 151 feet (46 meters) tall
(305 feet including base and pedestal), the Statue
of Liberty symbolizes freedom throughout the
world. Its formal name is Liberty Enlightening the
World. The Statue was actually a gift from the
people of France.
The statue, made of copper sheets with an iron
framework, depicts a woman escaping the chains
of tyranny, which lie at her feet. Her right hand
holds aloft a burning torch that represents 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.
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 coming to the U.S. from other
countries. Between 1892 and 1954, approximately 12 million people passed through
Ellis Island 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.
1. Where is the Statute of Liberty? _____________________________________
2. What is the statute a symbol of? _____________________________________
3. What does the woman hold in her right and left hand? ____________________
4. What do the rays on her crown symbolize? ____________________________
5. Write three details you learned about Ellis Island. _______________________
The Washington Monument
Located in Washington, DC, at the western end of the
National Mall, this four-sided stone structure (modeled after
a classic Egyptian obelisk) honors the "Father of our
Country," General, Founding Father, and the first president
of the United States (1789-1797), George Washington.
At 555 feet 5 1/8 inches (169.29 meters) high, the
Washington Monument towers over everything in
Washington, DC and is one of the tallest masonry structures
in the world. Fifty flags surround the base of the Washington
Monument and symbolize the 50 states of the Union. If you
take the elevator to the pyramid top, windows in the
observation room offer views of the Lincoln Memorial, the
White House, the Thomas Jefferson Memorial, and the
NOTE: Robert Mills' original design for the monument was
greatly altered in the course of construction and the present
monument has little in common with Mills' elaborate plan.
His design, a combination of Greek and Egyptian architecture, called for a 600 foot obelisk
centered on a circular colonnaded pantheon, 250 feet in diameter and 100 feet high. It was to
have 30 spaces set aside between the columns to eventually be filled with statues of prominent
Americans, and over the entrance was to be a toga-clad Washington driving a triumphal chariot.
The cornerstone for the monument was laid on July 4, 1848, and the monument was opened to
the public on October 9, 1888. In total, there are 36,491 stones. Inserted into the interior walls of
the monument are 188 carved stones presented by individuals, societies, cities, states, and
nations of the world.
Did you know that there is a "ring" around the monument? Due to several setbacks, the
monument stood incomplete at the height of about 150 feet for 25 years. Work resumed in
1880; however, the new marble stones came from a different quarry than the original. There is a
discoloration on the outside of the obelisk that clearly marks the older structure from the later
one, even though it is the same kind of marble. Since the marble came from three different
quarries, it was impossible to match the later marble to the older perfectly.
The Reflecting Pool
Located between the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial lies the Reflecting Pool.
This 2000x160 foot pool contains 7 million gallons of water. It was modeled after similar pools at
Versailles and the Taj Mahal. The design of the pool minimizes wind ripples and sharpens the
watery image of the monument.
1. Who does this monument honor? ______________________________________
2. What can you see from the very top of the monument? ( Name three things.)