The United States Greater Coat of Arms is full of symbolism. The symbolism that interests me are the olive branch of thirteen olives and leaves in the eagle’s right claw, and the thirteen arrows in his left. The meaning I was taught is that the U.S. has a strong desire for peace, but is ready for war.
But which condition, war or peace, was preferential to the early leaders? I’m not sure I recall being taught that part, so I’ll take a stab at it myself.
The early leaders of the colony, that would become the United States, were very fond of the Roman Empire: it’s power, it’s government, it’s size, it’s symbols. Rome was not passive when it came to acquiring more lands or quelling rebellion and it is evident by the actions of the early U.S. leaders that they preferred a diplomatic solution to rebellion against Great Britain. In July 1775, the Continental Congress sent what is known as ‘The Olive Petition’ to King George III affirming allegiance to the Crown, but requiring the right to negotiate trade and tax regulations.
The petition was rejected and war was inevitable. Certainly there were some who believed war was inevitable anyway, but rejection of ‘The Olive Petition’ rallied many of the colonists to the side of the those who wanted independence above all. In this case peace facilitated war.
Reading about the country’s founders shows that they were not in lock step. Solutions based on peace or war were continuously debated. In hindsight diplomacy was usually tried first with war as an option.
Now for some further symbolism in the Greater U.S. Coat of Arms – in the Roman Empire the right hand was considered the dominant hand. Weapons were carried in the right hand. Greeting were made with the right hand to show it was free of weaponry. Honored guests and those of higher rank were seated to the left of a host to show that the host was willing to defend the person on his left by symbolically becoming the honoree’s right hand. Did you keep up with that?
In the United States Greater Coat of Arms the olive branch is held in the eagle’s/nation’s right claw. The meaning is clear. All attempts at peace must be made first, but then, be ready for war. In a country where Ambassadors are selected based on how much money they contributed or raised for a presidential candidate, and where our military isn’t properly trained until enough “lessons” have been learned, it is obvious we have lost our way.
May the sun shine through your branches.