|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
“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
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.