Celebrating America's Freedoms
Celebrating America’s Freedoms is a collection of stories about some of America’s most beloved customs and national symbols. Topics include the history of "Taps," the Pledge of Allegiance, gun salutes, the correct method for displaying and folding the American flag and many more. Educators, students and others should find this collection informative and helpful when researching or planning activities for national observances such as Memorial Day, Veterans Day and Flag Day.
Download the complete Celebrating America's Freedoms collection. (PDF - 1 MB)
- The Origins of Veterans Day -- World War I ended on November 11, 1918. On the same date three years later an unknown soldier from that war was buried at Arlington National Cemetery. November 11 eventually became the date when America honors all who have served the United States in war. (PDF version)
- Activities for Veterans Day -- Teachers will find suggestions for various school activities and the outline for a program. (PDF Version) See Veterans Day for more information, including posters and a complete Teachers' Veterans Day Resource Guide.
- Images of the Veterans Day National Ceremony -- A small collection of images from the Veterans Day National Ceremony, held each year on November 11 at Arlington National Cemetery.
- The GI Bill of Rights -- The Servicemembers' Readjustment Act of 1944, commonly known as the GI Bill of Rights, was created to provide veterans with education and training, loan guaranty for homes, farms or businesses, and unemployment pay. (PDF version)
- The History of the Purple Heart Award -- It is one of the most recognized and respected medals awarded to members of the U.S. armed forces. Introduced as the “Badge of Military Merit” by General George Washington in 1782, the Purple Heart is also the nation's oldest military award. (PDF version)
- The Origins of Memorial Day -- Since not long after America's Civil War, American service members who died in battle have been honored -- and their graves decorated -- in the springtime. (PDF version)
- The Flower of Remembrance -- Learn how a simple red flower came to symbolize a perpetual tribute to those who have given their lives for the nation's freedom. (PDF version)
- The Story of Taps -- Based on a French signal to end the soldier's day, the melancholy bugle call now is also heard at military burials and memorial services. (PDF version)
- Arlington National Cemetery -- America's best known national cemetery still buries service members and some veterans. (PDF version)
- The United States Flag -- How "The Stars and Stripes" design has changed since 1776. (PDF version)
- The Pledge of Allegiance -- The words, and how they are delivered, have changed several times since 1892. (PDF version)
- "The Star-Spangled Banner" -- Francis Scott Key's poem and a British tune became the national anthem. (PDF version)
- "Old Glory" -- The story behind the affectionate name for the U.S. flag. (PDF version)
- The Origins of Flag Day -- The Continental Congress established the basic design of the U.S. flag on June 14, 1777, but many years passed before America officially observed National Flag Day. (PDF version)
- Guidelines for Display of the Flag -- Do's and Don'ts to correctly show respect for the national banner. (PDF version)
- Flying the American Flag at Half Staff -- When and how the flag is lowered to signify a national period of mourning. Download in (PDF version)
- Correct Method of Folding the United States Flag -- Word and diagram instructions on how to fold the flag into a triangular shape for presentation or display. (PDF version)
- The POW-MIA Flag -- The symbol of our nation's concern and commitment to resolving as fully as possible the fates of Americans still prisoner, missing and unaccounted for in Southeast Asia. (PDF version)
- The American Bald Eagle -- This majestic bird was not a unanimous choice as America's national bird and symbol. (PDF version)
- Gun Salutes -- From visiting naval vessels saluting the host country to rifle volleys at a military funeral, the ceremonial firing of guns is a centuries-old tradition of showing honor and respect. (PDF version)
- The Seal of the Department of Veterans Affairs -- The elements in VA's official seal symbolize the department's mission of serving America's 25 million living veterans and honoring the memory of those who served before them. (PDF version)
- The Origin of the VA Motto -- VA's motto comes directly from one of President Abraham Lincoln's most famous speeches. (PDF version)
- National Cemeteries -- The Department of Veterans Affairs maintains national cemeteries throughout the country for the burial of veterans of America's armed forces, their spouses and young children. (PDF version)
- Military Songs Inspire Troops, Preserve Tradition -- VA's motto comes directly from one of President Abraham Lincoln's most famous speeches. (PDF version)
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