Category Symbols of the U. S. Government

Honoring Veterans

Many veterans that survived the Korean War are now in their 70s. Take the opportu­nity to capture the stories of Korean War veterans.

Directions: Find a Korean War veteran in your area. If you do not know a Korean War veteran, you can write to one or invite one to be a guest of honor in your class­room. Your local veteran’s organization like the Korean War Veteran Association, VFW or American Legion will often have a list of veterans willing to speak with stu­dents.

Prepare ahead of time what you will ask the veteran. Sample questions can be found at: <http://www. loc. gov/folklife/vets/civquestions. html>. Share what you learn with your classmates.

Uncle Sam


Uncle Sam, a figure symbolizing the United States, is portrayed as a tall, white-haired man with a goatee. He is often dressed in red, white, and blue, and wears a top hat. The exact origins of Uncle Sam as a symbol for the United States are unknown. But the most widely accepted theory is that Uncle Sam was named after Samuel Wilson.

During the War of 1812, Samuel Wilson was a businessman from Troy, N. Y. that sup­plied the U. S. Army with beef in barrels. The barrels were labeled "U. S." When asked what the initials stood for, one of Wilson’s workers said it stood for Uncle Sam Wilson. The suggestion that the meat shipments came from "Uncle Sam" led to the idea that Uncle Sam symbolized the Federal Government and the association stuck. In 1961, Congress passed a resolution that recognized Samuel Wilson as the inspiration for the symbol Uncle Sam.

But Sam Wilson looked nothing like the Uncle Sam pictured above. Uncle Sam’s tra­ditional appearance, with a white goatee and star-spangled suit, is an invention of artists and political cartoonists. One of these political cartoonists was named Thomas Nast. Nast produced many of the earliest cartoons of Uncle Sam.

The most famous picture of Uncle Sam appeared on an Army recruiting poster. The poster was designed in World War I and was used again in World War II. The caption reads "I Want You for U. S. Army." James Montgomery Flagg drew this picture, and served as the model too!

Make Your Own Stovepipe Hat


Directions: Lincoln had a habit of misplacing his important papers. One day he discovered that he could keep these important papers safely tucked into his stovepipe hat. Make your own stovepipe hat.

White House


Located at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D. C., the White House is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the country. Completed in 1800, the White House has been the official residence of all the Presidents of the United States with the exception of George Washington. The house was rebuilt and restored after it was burned by the British during the War of 1812.

The White House has six floors–two basements, two public floors, and two floors for the First Family. Visitors who tour the White House are able to see the most beautiful and historic rooms in the house including the East Room, Green Room, Blue Room, Red Room, and the State Dining Room. These rooms are used by the President and First Lady to entertain guests and to receive leaders of other countries. The Oval Office is where the President conducts the business of the country, such as signing bills and Executive Orders and meeting with staff, visitors, and guests.

Marine Corps War Memorial


The Marine Corps War Memorial is a symbol of America’s gratitude to the United States Marines who died in combat. The statue portrays one of the most famous events of World War II: the U. S. victory at Iwo Jima, a small island in the Pacific Ocean near Japan.

Early on the morning of February 19, 1945, a small American flag was raised on Mount Suribachi after a long fight on the island. Later that afternoon, a larger American flag was raised by five marines. A news photographer caught the after­noon raising of the flag in an award-winning picture. In 1945, Felix W. de Weldon, saw the photograph and decided to create a life-sized model of it.

Written into the base in gold are the names and dates of Marine Corps engage­ments since the founding of the organization and the inscription:

In honor and memory of the men of the United States Marine Corps who have
given their lives to their country since November 10, 1775.