What Symbol Best Represents the United States?

Download the Entire Inquiry Here

New York State Social Studies Framework Key Idea & Practices 2.3: The United States is founded on the principles of democracy, and these principles are reflected in all types of communities.
 Gathering, Interpreting, and Using Evidence   Civic Participation
Staging the Question Engage students in a discussion about why people use symbols.
Staging the Compelling Question-
Teachers can engage students in a discussion about symbols by showing them three to five examples of emoticons and asking them to describe what each symbol represents and why people use emoticons.

Supporting Question 1- How do people use the United States flag as a symbol? (
NOTE: For additional symbols of the United States, teachers can visit “Symbols of the United States” Primary Source Set in the Teachers section of the Library of Congress website :
  • Source A Image bank: Symbols of the United States
The Pledge of Allegiance
  • I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for whichit stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.Image 2: The Pledge of AllegiancePublic domain.“The Pledge of Allegiance,” Historic Documents, Independence Hall Association website,
The National Anthem
The Star Spangled Banner
O say can you see, by the dawn’s early light,
What so proudly we hail’d at the twilight’s last gleaming,
Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight
O’er the ramparts we watch’d were so gallantly streaming?
And the rocket’s red glare, the bombs bursting in air,Gave
proof through the night that our flag was still there,
O say does that star- spangled banner yet wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

Image 4: The United States National Anthem
Public domain. ”The StarSpangled Banner: The Flag ThatInspired the National Anthem,” Smithsonian website,
“The Star Spangled Banner”
(MP3) atthe US Army Music website,

Supporting Question 2- What symbols represent the United States?
Source B: Symbols of the United States, Ben’s Guide to the U.S. Government website


Supporting Question 3- Do symbols mean the same thing to everyone?
  • Source A: Image Bank: Uses of the United States Flag