The word "patriotism" refers to the love and devotion that citizens feel for their country and for its ideals. Throughout history, the American people have expressed their patriotism through reverence toward, and interest in, certain symbols that have come to represent the things that are best about our country. The new educational book series Patriotic Symbols of America tells the story of twenty of the most recognizable monuments, landmarks, and documents of our history. Each book places the symbol into historical context, while also giving facts about the reasons for and process of its creation. Each of these 48-page books is illustrated with numerous historical and contemporary photographs and drawings. The full-color books have an inviting format, with easy-to-understand text that includes many quotations from primary sources. In each chapter there are text-dependent questions, research projects, and sidebars that enable students to broaden their perspectives on the text. Each book also includes a chronology, a glossary of terms and age-appropriate vocabulary words, lists of books and annotated websites where students can find more information; and a detailed index.
* Going beyond pat descriptions of symbols, this series digs to the roots of America's garden of emblems. For example, readers not only witness the evolution of the U.S. flag's design over the years, but learn, too, why flags matter in the first place. In addition, children discover that while the Pledge of Allegiance is a cornerstone of American symbolism, pledges to the flag are relatively rare in the rest of the world. * Throughout each title, "Vital Figure" sidebars feature key persons. In some instances, the person is well known, such as George Washington. Other times, the subject is less famous but no less important in his or her realm of influence (Alan Freed, unscrupulous but passionate promoter of rock 'n' roll). * The concise, engaging writing is aptly accented by symbols that alert readers to special vocabulary words, ideas for research projects, and sidebars brimming with supplemental insights. * ...the illustrations are colorful and appropriate. * A wide-ranging, appealing, and useful series.
By whatever name it is called--the Stars and Stripes, Old Glory, the Star-Spangled Banner--the American flag is the ultimate symbol of American freedom. But why stars, why stripes? What is the significance of the elements of the flag? The American flag went through several incarnations before the design we recognize today was established. From a banner based on a British flag and a colonial rattlesnake flag that read, "Don't Tread on Me" to the enormous 15-star flag that flew over Fort McHenry in 1814, inspiring Francis Scott Key to write the national anthem, this symbol of America has inspired music and joy in the hearts of people around the world. It is a beacon to those who long for liberty, as well as a representation of the unity of our great nation.
In the early days of American independence, government leaders tried to identify an animal that would represent the new nation. They settled on the bald eagle, a proud raptor that fiercely defends its nest and its family. The eagle has been used to represent government power since the time of the Roman Empire. In 1787 the bald eagle was officially adopted as the emblem of the United States. The eagle is often shown holding an olive branch (representing peace) and arrows (representing war) in its talons. Today the bald eagle remains a living symbol of American strength and values.
The issue of slavery had divided the nation for decades, but problems came to a head after the election of Abraham Lincoln as president in 1860. Fearing that Lincoln would attempt to abolish slavery, the legislatures of 11 southern states voted to withdraw from the United States and create a new nation, the Confederate States of America. This would result in four bloody years of Civil War in which more than 600,000 Americans were killed. The Confederacy adopted several flags between 1861 and 1865; the best known today is the battle flag, which featured a blue saltire cross on a red background. To some people, the Confederate flag is a proud symbol of Southern heritage and bravery. Others, however, view the Confederate flag as a symbol that represents the enslavement and oppression of African Americans. As a result, the Confederate flag is among the most controversial of American symbols.
Between 1892 and 1954, more than 12 million immigrants entered the United States through the Ellis Island processing station in New York harbor. To these immigrants, Ellis Island was a symbol of the American dream--once they passed through its gates, they could start a new life with opportunities that were not available to them in their countries of origin. Today, roughly one-third of our country's population is descended from those who were processed at Ellis Island, and the facility is now a museum dedicated to American immigration.
Some of the most important documents in American history were composed and debated within the Pennsylvania State House, now known as Independence Hall. In 1776, the Second Continental Congress voted to approve the Declaration of Independence, which said that the American colonies would no longer be subject to the British rule. In 1787, Independence Hall hosted discussions for a new Constitution, which even today remains the foundation of government for the United States. The Liberty Bell, which once hung in the steeple of Independence Hall, has also become an important American symbol. Today, millions of people visit Independence Hall each year to celebrate the origins of America.
The third president of the United States, Thomas Jefferson, was much more than just a politician--he was a writer, scientist, architect, and scholar who was considered one of the most brilliant figures of his age. To commemorate Jefferson's numerous accomplishments, a rotunda was constructed on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. Within is a statue of Jefferson, while on the walls nearby are quotations from some of his most famous writings, including the Declaration of Independence. The Jefferson Memorial is a symbol of American liberty. Surrounded by cherry blossom trees, it remains a popular site for reflection and inspiration.
On July 8, 1776, the bell in the steeple of the Pennsylvania State House in Philadelphia began to ring, letting the citizens know that an important announcement was about to take place. It was the reading of the Declaration of Independence, a statement by representatives of the 13 American colonies that they would no longer be subject to the rule of the British king. Since then, the Liberty Bell, with its famous crack, has been a symbol of American freedom and patriotism.
In November 1860, Abraham Lincoln was elected as the 16th president of the United States. By the time Lincoln took office in March 1861, the country was in crisis, as 11 states had declared their intention to secede and form a new nation, the Confederate States of America. More than four bloody years of civil war followed. Lincoln managed the government's effort to put down the rebellion and restore harmony to the country, and in the process set the nation on the path toward ending slavery forever. The Lincoln Memorial on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., commemorates Lincoln's accomplishments, as well as his personal belief in the dignity and inherent equality of all people. It has been the site of many large gatherings and protests. For millions of Americans, the Lincoln Memorial remains an inspiring symbol of freedom.
In 1927, sculptor Gutzon Borglum began a project to carve the heads of four great American presidents into the granite of Mount Rushmore. Over the next 14 years, the 60-foot-high likenesses of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and Theodore Roosevelt emerged from the rock. Today, nearly 3 million people visit Mount Rushmore National Memorial each year. They come to marvel at the majestic beauty of the Black Hills of South Dakota and learn about the birth, growth, development, and preservation of our country. From the history of the Native American tribes who considered this sacred land, to the diversity of America today, Mount Rushmore is a symbol of the rich heritage that we all share.
For more than six decades, Rock 'n' Roll music has been a voice of youth. This uniquely American style of music has had an enormous impact on the fashion, lifestyles, and attitudes of young people, both in the United States and elsewhere around the world. During the 1960s, rock music helped to change attitudes toward civil rights for African Americans. In the 1980s, rock helped to subvert the governments of the Soviet Union and its Eastern Bloc satellites, leading to the collapse of Communism. Major rock concert events like the Concert for Bangladesh (1971), Live Aid (1985), and Live 8 (2005) have raised awareness, and money, for worthwhile causes. Rock 'n' Roll music continues to evolve, as well as to influence self-expression in young people today.
The Statue of Liberty was given to the United States as a gift from the people of France in 1886. It was originally meant as an emblem of the friendship between the two nations, but over the years it has come to mean much more. The Statue of Liberty has come to represent the promise of America--a promise that drew tens of millions of immigrants from other countries, seeking greater freedom and opportunities. For many of these immigrants, Lady Liberty was the first thing they saw when they arrived in the United States. The Statue of Liberty has also served as a symbol of freedom for those who are oppressed throughout the world.
In 1836, a small group of Texan settlers fighting for their freedom from Mexico fortified an old Spanish mission near the village of San Antonio de Béxar. Surrounded and badly outnumbered by a larger Mexican army, the defenders of the Alamo vowed to fight rather than surrender. Their sacrifice allowed other Texans the opportunity to organize and prepare their army to face the Mexicans, and win freedom for Texas at the Battle of San Jacinto six weeks later. Today the Alamo remains a shrine to liberty, and a symbol of courage and determination in the face of overwhelming odds.
On July 4, 1776, members of the Second Continental Congress signed a statement that laid out their grievances against the king of Great Britain, and announced that they would no longer be bound by his government. The Declaration of Independence, as this document came to be called, would become a source of national pride during the American Revolution, and its language would inspire movements for freedom and liberty throughout the world. This book tells the story behind one of America's most cherished symbols.
In 1892, a magazine writer named Francis Bellamy came up with a simple 23-word statement of loyalty to the United States of America. This statement forms the basis for the Pledge of Allegiance, which today is often recited by Americans at the start of the school day, or before public meetings. Reciting the Pledge is a promise that the person will support and be faithful to the United States of America, and to the core values on which our nation was founded. The Pledge of Allegiance remains an important symbol of American values, including liberty and justice for all.
In September of 1814, the United States was a relatively young country engaged in a war with the most powerful nation of the time, Great Britain. A British fleet launched a devastating overnight bombardment of the American fort that defended Baltimore harbor. As the sun rose the next morning, a young lawyer named Francis Scott Key who had observed the battle saw that the American flag was still flying. Inspired, he wrote a poem that would later be set to music as "The Star-Spangled Banner"--our national anthem. Today, "The Star-Spangled Banner" is often performed before sporting events and other public functions. The national anthem is an important patriotic symbol because it reminds us about a critical moment in American history, and how our flag--which represents American democracy and values--has continued to fly proudly despite all attacks and outside pressures.
In 1787, the young United States was suffering from a governmental crisis. The original form of government created to unite the 13 states did not work well, and it was clear that something new was needed. In Philadelphia, representatives of the states met to create a new system of government. The document they produced, the U.S. Constitution, remains the framework for our government more than 225 years later. The U.S. Constitution sets out the duties of the various branches of the federal government, as well as the powers reserved by the states. It also delineates the rights that every individual possesses. To understand what being an American means, all citizens should understand the U.S. Constitution.
For more than 200 years, U.S. presidents have lived and worked in the executive mansion at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C.--commonly known as the White House. The executive mansion received its nickname in 1798, when its stone exterior was painted white to seal it from moisture and prevent cracking. As the official home of the president, the White House has come to symbolize the power and authority of the U.S. government. Within its walls, decisions are made that affect the lives of all Americans and, very often, the lives of millions of people around the world. Today, many people view the White House as a symbol of leadership and democracy.
It is said that the inspiration for the character of Uncle Sam was a man named Sam Wilson, who provided food for the U.S. Army during the War of 1812. By the 1830s, the figure of Uncle Sam had become a personified image of America, commonly used by newspaper and magazine cartoonists to represent the U.S. government's decisions and policies. Perhaps the best-known image of Uncle Sam was created in 1917, during the First World War--a stern, white-haired man wearing star-spangled clothing, encouraging Americans to do their part to support their nation. Uncle Sam remains an important symbol of the United States and the policies and activities of our government.
The Vietnam War was more divisive than any conflict in U.S. history. Between 1958 and 1975, more than 58,000 young Americans lost their lives in Southeast Asia. Because the war was unpopular at home, the American servicemen who returned home were often shunned or rejected. To heal these divisions, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial was constructed on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. The aim of "the Wall," as the memorial is sometimes called, was to recognize the service all who served in Vietnam. Dedicated in 1982, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial is among the most-visited monuments in the capital, and a powerful reminder of the sacrifices that a generation of Americans made for their country.
George Washington played a vital role in the founding of the United States. He was commander of the Continental Army during the American Revolution, presided over the convention that drafted the U.S. Constitution, and served as the first president. To honor Washington for his contributions, in the 1840s construction began on a monument in his honor--a stone obelisk that rises more than 550 feet in the sky above the capital. It took nearly 40 years before the monument was completed. Each year, millions of people visit the Washington Monument, which represents the achievements of George Washington, and the gratitude that Americans feel toward the "Father of our Country."
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