Symbols of America

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Symbols of America

          When I read the Stuart Hall’s Representation, Cultural Representations and Signifying Practices, I found a very interesting phrase called “linguistic code”. It is the one which correlates certain words or signs with certain colors or concepts. ( P26 ) This interesting view made me think about the symbols of countries.

Each country has their unique culture and representative. From these things people can easily distinguish which country it is. For the instance, the food. When people talk about sushi, we first think Japan; when people talk about the kimchi, we know it is Korea. In the same way, when we talk about the animals, like panda, we know it is the symbol of China.

However, when people talk about America, what would they first think about?

When I was young, my impression of the USA was the famous Stars and Stripes flag. My teacher told me that the fifty stars stood for the fifty states, and the thirteen stripes stood for the earliest 13 colonies. As time goes on, I found there are many things could be the signals of America.

People can always see some pictures that shows a bald eagle stands before a star and stripes flag. It is no doubt that the brave bald eagle has become a very important and famous symbol of the USA. First of all, the bald eagle is one animal species that is unique in North America. At the same time, the bald eagle’s posture is very full of power and grandeur and is deeply loved by American people. In 1782, the president and the Congress set a law that made the bald eagle as the nation’s bird. The eagle has also been a symbol of the presidency. Today, no matter the nation emblem, or the military uniforms, there are always a bald eagle on them. People can see a bald eagle everywhere. When people talk about bald eagle, they know it is the symbol of America.

Sometimes when I am walking on the street after dinner, I can see many turkeys; when I am driving a car crossing the road, I can see many turkeys walking cross the road in front of my car; when I am playing in the park, I can see many turkeys. They are almost everywhere!

However, I never see so many real turkeys in my life, and in China, it is impossible to let some animals walking on the street by themselves. Benjamin Franklin thought that the wild turkey should be the national bird of the USA. In America, there is still a very interesting story: The American president pardon the turkeys before the Thanksgiving. Nowadays, the turkeys seems to be another symbol of America, it is not only because the turkey is original born in North America, but also a very interesting animal that America people like.

Once people see the Statue of Liberty, they will be attracted by the magnificent work of art. It is undeniable that the statue of Liberty is a very perfect art work. In 1876, France gave it as a gift to celebrate the American one-hundred-year anniversary. The goddess’s right hand holds a torch that stands for the freedom, and her left hand holds the engraved “July 4th, 1776” < The Declaration of Independence >. Since more than one century, the statue of liberty has become a symbol of American and world people’s friendship. It is no doubt that the Statue of Liberty has become a very famous and indispensable thing of America. It is the spirit of America, freedom is the top thing! Nowadays, it is not only a sample architecture, but also a specific symbol of America.

Stuart Hall said: “the red and green work in the language of traffic lights because ‘Stop” and ‘Go” are the meaning which have been assigned to them in our culture by the code governing this language, and this code is widely known and almost universally obeyed in our culture and cultures like ours.” ( P26 ) The green is original represent the environmentalism, and the red is original stands for the blood. However, we use these color to stand for “go” and “stop”. It is the same way that the bald eagle and turkey, or the Statue of Liberty, they may just animals or architecture when they first born, but now they have stood for the American spirit, they are the symbols of America.

Reference:

Stuart Hall,  Representation, Cultural Representations and Signifying Practices

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One Response to Symbols of America

  1. Gabrielle says:

    Commentary
    The whole image is combined by four images.
    Image 1: Eric Frommer, a bald eagle in the Skagit valley of Washington, USA, It was taken in December of 2009.
    Image 2 is the Seal of the President of the United States. The seal was used began 1945, and is also used as a symbol of the presidency.
    Image 3: Riki, a wild Turkey during mating season.
    Image 4: Elcobbola, the Statue of Liberty in New York. It was taken In August 8th, 2010.
    In the Stuart Hall’s Representation, Cultural Representations and Signifying Practices, the author discussed how languages function as representational systems. (P26) He discussed the traffic lights example. He said “we resent or symbolize the different colors and classify them according to different color-concepts.” (P26, 1.5 The language of traffic lights)
    Stuart Hall said this is “linguistic code”—the one which correlates certain words or signs with certain colors or concepts. (P26) This makes me think about the symbol of America. Almost each country has their own symbol that you can distinguish which country it is. The bald eagle has been the national symbol of the USA since 1782, and the eagle has also been a symbol of the presidency. Also, Benjamin Franklin thought that the wild turkey should be the national bird of the USA, and in America, I also see many turkeys on the street, in the park and almost everywhere. The Statue of Liberty is very famous over the world, it is stand for the freedom spirit of American people. When people talk about the Statue of Liberty, they first think about the USA, with the evolution of history, it is not only a famous statue, but also the symbol of America. It has become the representative of America.
    In this way, I think no matter the animals or the architectures, they are not only just stand for something they originally stand, but also the specific symbols of the USA.
    Preference:
    Stuart Hall, Representation, Cultural Representations and Signifying Practices

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