List of American Symbols

Stars and stripes are among the most famous symbols of Americana.
Stars and stripes are among the most famous symbols of Americana.

National symbols refer to patriotic symbols that represent countries or nations. Occasionally, symbols could be used for ethnic or cultural groups which do not have national or political autonomy. The most famous national symbol of the United States is the flag. Here are some other symbols that represent the United States of America. 

Red, white, and blue

The red, white, and blue colors are common in the American flag among other heraldic devices like the seal. When they were adopted in the American flag in 1777, they did not have meanings, but in the seal, the colors had meanings which have been transferred to the colors of the flag. The red color signifies hardiness and valor, the white stands for purity and innocence, while the blue color represents vigilance, justice, and perseverance. Over the years, people have given new meanings to the colors which differ from the original interpretation. According to some people, the red color represents the blood shed by the Patriots who were fighting to protect the country.

Apple pie

Apple pie is one of the unofficial symbols of the US and is recorded as among the signature comfort foods in the country. Traditionally, apple pie is served with ice cream or whipped cream. Apple pie was introduced by the British, the Dutch, and Swedes to the colonies in the 17th and the 18th centuries.

Bald eagle

The bald eagle is a national animal as well as the national bird of the US. The bird appears on the obverse side of the Great American Seal. The bald eagle is depicted holding 13 arrows on its left legs and a branch of olive on its right leg. The 13 arrows represent the original colonies, and the olive represents the country's desire for peace and its readiness for war. The bald eagle was almost extinct in the 20th century, but their populations have so far recovered. The bald eagle's name is derived from the old meaning of the word white-headed. The adult eagle is white-headed, and its tail is also white.

Stars and stripes

The 50 stars in the American flag represent the 50 states in the country, and the 13 white and red stripes represent the original 13 colonies. However, there is another interpretation of the stars and the stripes, which is not known to many people. According to 1977 the House of Representatives book, it states that "the star symbolizes heavens and the divine goal that humans have aspired from time immemorial." The stripes symbolize the rays of light originating from the sun.

Uncle Sam

Uncle Sam is the personification of the government of the US which is believed to have come into common use during the War of 1812. It is believed that Samuel Wilson of New York is the originator of the name. Uncle Sam has become a common symbol of the US government in American culture, starting from the 19th century. Although it is not clear whether the original Uncle Sam was Samuel Wilson, the United States congress in 1961 adopted the resolution to honor Samuel Wilson of Troy as the progenitor of Uncle Sam that has become America's national symbol.

Smokey the Bear

Smokey the Bear has become an American advertising ad campaign icon. It was created by the artist Albert Staehle and has been adopted the US Forest Service, particularly in the campaigns on prevention of wildfires. The campaign has been one of the longest-running announcement campaigns in the country's history. The US Forest Service (USFS), the Ad Council, creative agency (FCB), and the National Association of State Forest (NASF) use the Smokey Bear in educating the public on wildfires caused by humans. The earliest campaigns featuring Smokey the Bear started in the 1940s.

Paul Bunyan

Editorial credit: Jane Rix /

Paul Bunyan is another American symbol that is represented by a giant lumberjack and has been commonly used in American folklore. Its origin is traced to the oral tradition of the loggers in North America and was popularized in 1916. So far, it has been a subject of different musical pieces, theatrical productions, and commercial works. His statutes are displayed in different places all over North America.

Liberty Bell

Liberty Bell is found in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and it is one of America's iconic symbols. The bell was initially housed in the Independence Hall, but today it is housed in the Independence National Historical Park at the Liberty Bell Centre. It was commissioned by the provincial assembly of Pennsylvania in 1752. After WWII, the National Park Service took custody of the bell.


Columbia is the personification of the US as a nation, and this is in contrast with Uncle Sam, which is the personification of the government. Columbia is a historical name describing the new world and the Americas. Names such as Columbia River, District of Columbia, and Columbia University among others are derived from the name. Its origin is traced to Christopher Columbus.

Rosie the Riveter

Rosie the Riveter has become America's cultural icon that represents women who were working in shipyards and other factories during WWII. It has become a symbol of feminism in America. Rosie the Riveter has its origins in 1942 in a song written by Redd Evans and John Jacob.


More in World Facts