Sunday, October 3, 2010

A Hidden Symbol from our Nation's Past

I have seen the state flags of New York and New Jersey before. I have seen various state and army seals on numerous occasions as I have studied history and politics throughout the years. Every time I have seen this symbol I am more than likely dismiss it without even considering what it is or its significance. What am I talking about you may ask? Well examine the picture to the left. It is the Seal of the United States Army. Many of the images connect very well with us. We have the flag of the United States and of the army. We also see cannons and munition for them along with a Roman style breastplate, which for the most part all make a great deal of sense. However near the top you see what appears to be a red hat. Somewhat randomly in the top middle and very obvious for everyone to see. There is nothing military or threatening about a flimsy red hat. One must ask the question like I did, what is this hat doing there and what does it mean? This hat is known as the Phyrgian Cap or sometimes as the Liberty Cap.

The history behind the symbolism of the Phyrgian Cap dates back to the Greek and Roman time period when freed slaves were given the cap to symbolize their freedom. Although somewhat difficult to prove the belief is that this practice originated in Phyrgia when they would free their slaves there and the practice simply spread. As the Enlightenment era came around the use of the Phyrgian Cap as a symbol of liberty and freedom was used more and more. As the dawn of American independence was in full swing it was natural for patriots to use the cap as a symbol of a desire for their own personal liberty. One of the main uses of the cap was at the liberty pole which the New York 'Sons of Liberty' had erected as a symbol or defiance and a gathering place for their rallies. When the Sons of Liberty wanted their members to rally to the Liberty pole they would sometimes place a red Phyrgian Cap on top of the pole indicating that there was a meeting taking place and everyone should gather.

As I read about this cap and its history I immediately searched for images of the cap in our flag and insignias. I was surprised to find it numerous times normally hidden or obscure but it was there. Signifying in some way that we as Americans stand for liberty and freedom for all its individuals. Below are some images with the Phyrgian Cap in them. See if these are images you've seen before however never noticed the red cap so plainly in view.

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