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I was awakened to the extensive history lesson depicted on a one dollar bill by John Oshoway when he spoke to veterans last week. I would like to share this with you and hope you are curious enough to get out a bill and see for yourself the importance of the symbols and meaning behind them.

On the front of the bill is the United States Treasury Seal, with a balancing scale that indicates justice. There is also a chevron with 13 stars representing the 13 original colonies. Underneath is a key that is intended to represent a symbol of authority.

On the back side of the bill are two circles that represent the two sides of the Great Seal of the United States. In 1776, the First Continental Congress appointed a committee to develop a seal. Three of the five men who had drafted the Declaration of Independence were appointed: Benjamin Franklin, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson. It took six years and the work of 14 men before a final version was approved in 1782.

The left hand circle holds a pyramid. The front is lighted and the western side is dark. An unofficial reason is that our country was just beginning and had not begun to explore the West. The pyramid is uncapped, which may suggest that our country was not yet finished. The pyramid represents strength and duration.” Inside the capstone is the all-seeing eye, which is an ancient symbol for divinity. The committee wanted the seal to include a reflection of divine providence.

“In God We Trust” is also on this back side. Annuit coeptis, the Latin words above the pyramid, means “God has favored our undertaking.” It was Franklin’s belief that one man could not do it alone, but a group of men with the help of God could do anything. Below the pyramid is the Latin phrase novus ordo seclorum, interpreted to mean “a new order for the world.” At the base is the roman numeral for 1776, the year of origin for our country.

The right circle is similar to the Seal of the President of the United States. It appears on every National Cemetery in the U.S. The bald eagle was selected as a symbol for victory for two reasons: First, he is not afraid of a storm, he is strong, and is smart enough to soar above trouble. Secondly, he wears no crown to show we had just broken from the King of England. The shield is unsupported to symbolize that our country can now stand on its own. At the top of the shield is a white bar, symbolizing Congress, and that we were coming together as one nation. The Eagle holds an olive branch in one talon and arrows in the other. Our country wants peace (the olive branch), but will not be afraid to fight to preserve it (the arrows)

The number 13 is usually considered an unlucky number. You will usually never see a room numbered 13 or a 13th floor in a building. But the meaning of 13 in United States history is very strong. On the bill we have:

13 steps on the pyramid

13 stars above the eagle

13 plumes of feathers on each wing of the Eagle

13 bars on the shield

13 leaves on the olive branch, also 13 olives

13 arrows

All of this represents the beginning of our country, as established by the 13 colonies.

Each time we pull out a dollar bill we can be reminded of important history of our country. We cannot let the meaning fade. Too many veterans have given up too much.

We must remember this in honor of them. We must remember what America stands for.

This Week's Editorial:

By Helen Morris:


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