What does it mean to be American?
Download Primary Source Set: What does it mean to be an American?
Taken together, this set of primary sources celebrates the unifying theme of freedom and civic pride in a democratic system of government. Teachers may ask students how Americans are connected even though they are an ethnically, politically, and geographically diverse group of people. This diversity may also be reflected in students’ classroom, school, city, or state. National symbols or icons are unifying expressions of the nation’s history and founding principles. Although symbols may change over time, they serve as constant reminders of American values and beliefs across generations. Pervading Americans’ daily lives, visual symbols like the American flag and songs such as the “Star Spangled Banner”inspire patriotism and cultivate a shared cultural identity for citizens. Even more immediate for students, school mascots, songs, and colors are examples of symbols that connect students with their school and give meaning to their community.