4th of July Symbols

by Tolovaj

The Fourth of July celebrates the independence of 13 North American colonies from Great Britain. That's why it's called Independence Day.

The USA as a sovereign state was established by the Declaration of Independence, a document ratified by the Second Continental Congress on July 4, 1776. The legal separation actually happened two days earlier when Congress approved the resolution of independence, while the declaration itself explains this crucial decision. The declaration was written by five committee members. Thomas Jefferson was the author of the first draft.

Most Americans know at least some of these historical facts when every fourth of July, the celebrations all over the states start. This federal holiday is marked by barbecues, family gatherings, and picnics on smaller and carnivals, fireworks, and parades on larger scales. Speeches and sports events are important parts of celebrations as well. Decoration, of course, is dominated by the colors of the flag of the USA. If you are not familiar with the meanings behind the most important symbols of the Fourth of July, here is your chance to learn something new.

Let me explain the top 10 symbols of the 4th of July.


Fourth of July is marked by a combination of three colors: red, white, and blue. These are not only the national colors of the United States of America, used on the national flag, but also the popular choice of many other nations. The reason is simple - dyeing with these colors has been mastered for centuries, pigments for red and blue are well-known and widely available for a very long time, white is achieved by bleaching, and the combination looks great.

But what are the specific meanings of colors on the Old Glory or Stars and Stripes, as the American flag is often called?

1. White

The color white stands for innocence and purity. White can also symbolize cleanliness, independence, peace, simplicity, and unity in the case of other countries.

The graphics above represent different meanings of white in the national flags of different countries. We can also notice how popular is the combination of three colors on the global scene.

2. Red

The color red is for hardiness and valor. It's the most popular color on national flags, used on an astonishing 74% of all flags. I have already written an article about the color red.

If we stay limited to national colors only, red can also mean courage, energy, desire, and passion. Things can get further complicated with an introduction of different shades...

3. Blue

The color blue in the American flag signifies justice, perseverance, and vigilance. Other countries have in the flag as well. It's the second most popular color for flags, represented in 71% of them. Blue means comfort, happiness, loyalty, peace, relaxation,... Its symbolism is so rich, that it deserves an article on its own.

Of course, I already did it. Here is a full wizz about the color blue.


Stars and Stripes

Stars and Stripes is another nickname for the United States of America's flag. Both elements are present in the 4th of July decor.

4. Stars

If, for some reason, you don't know what stars and stripes stand for, we can add that each star on the flag stands for one of the states united in a federation. They are 50 at the moment, but this can change in the future, which means the flag will change too. The last two stars were added in 1959 for Alaska and Hawaii.

5. Stripes

Stripes (13 of them) represent 13 original colonies that joined the union when the USA was established as an independent country. The stripes have been on the flag since 1775, almost a year before the Declaration. Instead of the rectangle with stars, the same place was occupied by the Union Jack until 1777. The first US flag was called the Grand Union Flag.

6. Bald Eagle

The bald eagle became a symbol of the USA in 1782. It took six years and three committees before the design of the national seal was introduced to Charles Thomson, the secretary of Congress, who immediately proposed a change - a replacement of the white eagle with the bald eagle, known for noble looks, great strength, and longevity.

An eagle has been a symbol of authority, independence, and power for thousands of years, so the choice seemed obvious, yet not everybody was happy with it. Benjamin Franklin, for instance, labeled the bald eagle as a bird of bad moral character. On at least one occasion, he wrote that the bald eagle is a lazy robber and a coward, which can be easily chased away by smaller species.

When the bald eagle became a symbol of the United States, there were about one hundred thousand nests, but less than five hundred in 1963. After the Protection Act was passed by Congress (prohibiting killing, selling, or possessing bald eagles) and DDT was banned, the population slowly recovered to about ten thousand nests today.

7. Statue of Liberty

The Statue of Liberty in New York is a universal symbol of freedom. It is a gift from France in 1886 to the USA, received by Grover Cleveland. Originally, it was given as a sign of mutual valuation of liberty. It doesn't address just the freedom of both countries but also the abolition of slavery and the hope of immigrants. The statue symbolizes an opportunity for everybody.

For many years, the Statue of Liberty was the first part of the New World for hundreds of thousands of people who came from Europe to New York looking for a better life. Today, it's a universally recognized symbol of a free world.

8. Liberty Bell

Liberty Bell has an impressive history. It's actually a replacement bell to the original Philadelphia city bell, used to announce important acts and dangers since the city's establishment. Some people believe it have been brought by the city founder, William Penn himself. This bell was hung on the branch of the tree.

With the city's expansion, a bell tower was built, and a larger bell was ordered in 1751. It came from London about a year later and cracked after the first sound test. They had to recast it - twice because after the first recast, the sound was terrible.

While most people believe it rang on the 4th of July 1776, it was, in fact, the 8th of July when the Declaration was publicly read, and all the Philadelphia bells (including the city bell) rang. The name Liberty Bell was first used only in 1839. Four years later, it cracked again. It was retired in 1846. Today it is exposed in the Liberty Bell Center. About two million visitors visit it annually.

9. Yankee Doodle Three-Cornered Hat (Top Hat)

There are several theories about the Yankee Doodle Three-Cornered Hat, which is nowadays represented by a top hat decorated with elements and colors of the American flag. The most believable theory is based on the evolution of the song Yankee Doodle, originally meant to mock Americans by Englishmen.

One of the elements of the song is a tricorn hat placed on the stylish wig, typical for members of high society in London. The song mocks the American to be so simple that he just sticks a feather in the hat and believes he is a nobleman, too. But, Americans adopted the song as a kind of hymn, and the top hat became one of the symbols of independence.

10. Fireworks and Balloons

Fireworks have been popular since their invention in China more than one thousand years ago. A firework soon became an indispensable part of every large celebration. Independence Day is undoubtedly a perfect occasion for a large firework. On the 4th of July, numerous fireworks are organized all over the country, symbolizing the resilience of the nation by explosions in different colors. Fireworks are a force joining different people under the umbrella of the same values.

While nobody denies the beauty of fireworks, more and more people emphasize their negative impact on the environment. Several alternatives, like colorful balloons, are already in use. The final choice is, of course, yours.

Happy Fourth of July!

Updated: 06/15/2024, Tolovaj
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What is Your Favorite Symbol of the Independence Day?

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Tolovaj 26 days ago

A public domain picture from Pixabay or Openclipart was used for this image.

Tolovaj 26 days ago

The original bell in Philadelphia, hanging from the breach, was much smaller. The bell, which is now called Liberty Bell, was/is too heavy for that. It was ordered when the tower for it was already built.

Tolovaj 26 days ago

Yes, Ljubljana has a lot of trees and parks. It's a lovely city and I hope it stays this way. There are several legends connected with our dragon. Jason and Argonauts are in the most popular ones. But the dragon stays mysterious and I think he might be right;)

DerdriuMarriner 26 days ago

The in-text image just above the 10th subheading, Fireworks and balloons, does not display the artist name.

Is there any information beyond that image linking with the mycoloringland site?

DerdriuMarriner 27 days ago

The Liberty Bell originally hanging from a tree branch intrigues me.

Online sources list American elms (Ulmus americana), American chestnuts (Castanea dentatum) and Franklinia (Franklinia alatamah) among trees still manifest on Independence Hall grounds.

My first guess for Liberty Bell-hanging might be an oak (Quercus) species. My guess from the above list might be American elms, another tree species monitored as so Unitedstatesian-beloved.

It would have to be a strong branch for Liberty Bell weight, wouldn't it?

DerdriuMarriner 28 days ago

Thank you for your comments below in answer to my previous observations and questions.

Ljubljana coat of arms-ing a dragon particularly appeals to me.

Online sources associate that dragon with Jason and the Argonauts!

Ljubljana communicates to urban-forest arborists -- such as myself ;-D -- a city commended consecutively, repeatedly for its tree community service, numbers, placements and size.

So perhaps that marsh-dwelling dragon comported her-/him-self well Ljubljana-ward if not Vrhnika-ward, right?

Might Vrhnika have the stellar tree-cover reputation of Ljubljana or might that dragon have directed her/his fiery breath toward there?

(Online sources place that dragon in a marsh-sided lake between Ljubljana and Vrhnika!)

Tolovaj 28 days ago

As I said, I have a very long list of projects to work on...

Tolovaj 28 days ago

Well, France love roosters, that's for sure:) There are also swans and geese in coats of arms. My city has a dragon... If you look, you'll find!

DerdriuMarriner 28 days ago

Your comment two boxes below, in answer to my previous observation and question, intrigues me.

Your comment mentions star symbolism as mandating a full article.

Might you be mulling a full-article wizzley on star symbolism in fairy tales?

(That would be as appreciated and informative and timeless and timely as your wizzley on forests in fairy tales ;-D!)

DerdriuMarriner 29 days ago

Thank you for your comments below in answer to my previous observations and questions.

Benjamin Franklin disliked displaying the bald eagle as independent-day bird! He instead favored the turkey.

Might any European countries have mustered up a bird such as a chicken or a turkey?

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