America is filled with a lot of symbols that most people here know by memory. But, there are some symbols out there that are not as popular or well-known or just hard to decipher at first glance. These are the symbols that have a lot of power in a small package.

As citizens of the United States of America, we have the right to choose what we want to do with our lives due to America being the “Land of Opportunity”. What makes America so special isn’t limited to just the rights that we are granted. We have symbols that help visualize our country and make it what it is. They come in all shapes, forms, and sizes and we see them all over the place and respect them to keep the symbols from dying with age. There are actually some hidden symbols that many people don’t know much about unless they put in the time to do some research. Two big ones are the bald eagle and Uncle Sam. 

Some countries and our states have animals that represent their characteristics in different ways. The most common would have to be birds. For us, our main animal symbol is the American bald eagle. The bird of prey was officially adopted as our national bird in 1787. This specific bird was chosen because it has a majestic presence, formidable strength, lengthy life, and the fact that it is native to the U.S. Also, during one of the first battles of the Revolution, the noise of the battle woke up sleeping eagles from their nest and began to circle over the men while shrieking. The patriots noticed them by saying "They are shrieking for freedom." This eagle also represents freedom because it perches on top of high mountains and has the unlimited choice of where to fly to. Surprisingly, Benjamin Franklin did not approve of the bald eagle being chosen as a symbol of the U.S. because it is a "bird of bad moral character." He would have wanted the turkey to become the national bird instead because he described it as "a bird of courage, and would not hesitate to attack a grenadier of the British guards, who should presume to invade his farmyard with a red coat on." Overall, the bald eagle is a very respected and powerful bird that is still very popular among Americans all over the country. 

The United States also has a symbol that is featured in a recruiting poster, served as a symbol of patriotism, and is a personification of the government of the United States of America. That symbol is Uncle Sam. His appearance is taken from two earlier symbolic figures in American history: Yankee Doodle, a British-inspired nickname for American colonials during the American Revolution, and Brother Jonathan, a rural American wit who, by surprising displays of native intelligence, always triumphed over his adversaries in plays, stories, cartoons, and verse. He was also supposedly based off of a real person whose name was Samuel Wilson. He was a businessman during the war of 1812. Uncle Sam was made popular by Thomas Nast and the Puck Magazine cartoonists but when his portrait was created by James Montgomery Flagg for the July 6, 1916, issue of Leslie’s Weekly, that's when he started to become iconicThe image was used to rally up men to enlist in the military and to encourage civilian support for the entry of the U.S. into World War I. Uncle Sam was officially adopted as a national symbol of the United States of America in 1950. In all, Uncle Sam was a powerful symbol back then and still is today. We probably need him in today's time more than ever.  

Uncle Sam and the bald eagle are two symbols that probably have no meaning at first glance but once you take the time to do some research, they are actually very impactful to our history. Both have very different ways of carrying out American Ideals but the message is the same, to show the rest of the world why America is what it is and why living here is a great idea for the most part. 




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These responses were created by seniors in AP Language and Composition Class at Highland High School.

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