Change: The Symbols of American Creed

Since its beginning, the United States of America have always been brave, progressive, and rebellious. The Land of the Free, throughout hundreds of years, has had people that seek change, who come together to form the iconic symbols we know today.

By Noah S. from Gerstell Academy in Maryland

Above is the Flag of the Sons of Liberty. In 1765, when colonies were still present in America, and King George III ruled over them, a group of 9 secret Patriots bounded together to protest the Intolerable Acts that closed the Boston Harbor; the 9 stripes of the flag represent the group's founding members. In the rebellion, these men initiated the Boston Tea Party, where 342 barrels of British Tea were dumped into the Harbor, in protest of the several taxes that colonists could no longer bare. The event was the first major act of defiance to British rule over the colonists. It showed Great Britain that Americans wouldn’t take taxation and tyranny without fight, and rallied American patriots across the 13 colonies to fight for independence.

A few years later in 1770, after the Sons of Liberty Flag was banned by Britain, the snake became the new symbol of American Revolution. Popularized by Ben Franklin, the snake symbolized the Colonies in many ways. In an article of the Pennsylvania Gazette, Franklin said, "I observed on one of the drums belonging to the marines now raising, there was painted a Rattle-Snake, with this modest motto under it, "Don’t tread on me." As I know it is the custom to have some device on the arms of every country, I supposed this may have been intended for the arms of America." Franklin goes on to say that the snake is the perfect symbol because it appears weak, but can be very devastating if provoked. Also, a snake will never begin an attack on a target that doesn't provoke it, and a snake will never attack without a fair warning. This snake became an immensely popular symbol in America, and was used throughout the American Revolution, when America gained its independence from Great Britain.

A century after America gained its independence, the bravery and courage that American citizens have has still not died. The top picture shows Uncle Sam, a popular symbol for the United States. He is usually depicted as a cartoon figure having long white hair and dressed in a coat, vest, and tall hat with stars on it, colored in the American Red, White, and Blue. Uncle Sam was used by America in both World Wars as a call to action for American men. Uncle Sam exclaimed "I Want You!" to Millions of American men, calling them to defend the freedom that they held so dear to them.

As American Men went to war, American women were also called into action. Rosie the Riveter, shown in the bottom picture, is the symbol for all the women that worked in the war industry during the Second World War. As the men went to fight, hundreds of thousands of women took their places in the factories and other blue collar jobs. With their combined efforts, they contributed greatly to the Allied victory. Uncle Sam and Rosie the Riveter are 2 American symbols that greatly influenced change in a pivotal time for the entire World.

As we fast-forward another century in America, we see that people are still seeking change to this day! The LGBTQ+ Movement, symbolized by the Rainbow Flag, started in 1970 with a goal to provide equal rights to the LGBTQ+ community. The Gay rights movement in the United States has seen huge progress in the last century, especially the last two decades. Laws prohibiting homosexual activity have been abolished, lesbian, gay and bisexual people are now allowed to serve openly in the military, and same-sex couples can now legally get married in all 50 states. The movement has made great achievements, but there job is not yet done. In just a few decades, the LGBTQ+ Movement has made monumental changes in America; this goes to show the American people's undying will to seek a better, equitable, and more inclusive nation.

Following the Civil Rights Movement that greatly helped to end segregation in the 1950s, led by historical leaders such as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and John Lewis, Malcom X, and many more, the Black Lives Matter movement's goal is to "eradicate white supremacy and build local power to intervene in violence inflicted on Black communities by the state and vigilantes." As stated by the Black Live Matter association. The BLM movement was founded in 2013 in response to the acquittal of Trayvon Martin's murderer. By combating acts of violence, and protesting across the nation, the BLM movement has caused great change in America. They are also responsible for the various police reform laws being passed as I type. They work for change in America, in hopes that one day Black lives are truly treated equally in the Nation.

Throughout hundreds of years, from the revolutionary era, to the historical year of 2020, America has always been the Nation of change. A place where the people can directly change their lives for the better. The various symbols that we have explored stand for different movements and target different groups, but they all share the same call to action, and the same goal to make America a better place.

Gerstell Academy

Leadership and Change Section 1

Senior level leadership class responses, section 1/3

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