American Patriotism Through Images

(Featured Image Source)

Find the range of your patriotism by enlisting in the Navy / WI ; P&GA. Source.

Context: TItled “Find the Range of Your Patriotism by Enlisting in the Navy” was created to encourage more United States Americans to enlist in the Navy during World War I.

Icebreaker Prompt: Analyze the image. Does the caption help understand the image? Create a new caption for the image.

Response: The caption does help understand the image. It shows men working together to defeat the enemy. The caption points out that those men are patriots for doing so. Additionally, the “range” that the caption holds refers to the range of American patriotism. If one was not to enlist at all, one might be considered less than a patriot than those who did enlist. The new caption is “You Can Become an American Patriot by Enlisting”.

“No Known Restrictions: Pledge of Allegiance by Dorothea Lange, San Francisco 1942 (LOC)” by is marked with CC PDM 1.0 Source

Context: This image, taken by Dorothea Lange shows school children saying the Pledge of Allegiance in April 1942. During this time, World War II was raging on and at this point, the United States had already joined the Allied Forces.

Icebreaker Prompt: Analyze the image. What do you think the subjects in the photo are thinking? Create a thought bubble for the subjects in the image.

Response: The subjects are saying the Pledge of Allegiance. Many of the students look like they are getting into the pledge and are enjoying their time to be patriotic. As for the thought bubbles, I picked the three girls in the front row. The one on the far left is thinking “I hope I am getting these words right. I don’t want to seem unpatriotic.”. The girl in the middle is thinking “This is my favorite part!”. And finally, the girl on the far right is thinking “This is a great poem. I love reciting it every day at school.”.

“Rally against the Dakota Access Pipeline” by Fibonacci Blue is licensed under CC BY 2.0 Source

Context: This image shows the rally against the Dakota Access Pipeline in Minnesota. The planned pipeline was going to bring in thousands of barrels of oil ranging from North Dakota to Illinois. The pipeline’s track was intended to pass upstream from the Sioux Nation. The protest was to prevent the pipeline as well as prevent contamination of the water of the Sioux nation.

Icebreaker Prompt: Analyze the image. Brainstorm a list of five questions. Rank them based on the level of interest.


  1. Is protest a form of patriotism?
  2. Was the pipeline stopped?
  3. Is there another way to extract fossil fuels without disrupting any person’s way of life?
  4. When people protest against the government for positive progress and way of life, is that considered patriotism?
  5. What does it mean for the American perception of native tribes if the government allowed the pipeline to negatively affect the Sioux Nation?

7 Replies to “American Patriotism Through Images”

  1. These are great images! I love propaganda posters; that stuff is fascinating. It’d be interesting to do this exercise using the image compare of WWII posters from the American and Nazi Germany points of view, and then ask students to do an drawing analysis or symbols icebreaker. Just thinking of ways to start combining some of these exercises.

    1. Hey Tyler! I think those ideas are great! I find it really fascinating that we can look at the past and pull certain symbols and national rhetoric from it.

  2. I liked how you have images from three totally different eras united on a common theme. I think that would help students understand the broader themes of history. I also thought it was really interesting that you included a DAPL rally as the last image. That is a totally different way of thinking about patriotism compared to the wartime/pledge of allegiance patriotism we normally think about. It really challenges the reader to think about what patriotism actually means and what falls under that definition.

    1. Hi Maggie!

      That was definitely my intent! I wanted to show the various ways patriotism is presenting in the United States and why one way is more obvious than the other.

  3. Angela! I like the second the third images and their prompts a lot. I really wonder about the story behind that second image. With the third prompt I was thinking about that first question you posed in the response; Is protest a form of patriotism? That question alone could spur an entire class period of discussion. Overall great choice of topic, images and prompts.

  4. Angela, I was quite interested by your post and the images you used in order to portray American Patriotism. It’s always interesting to see the lengths to which comic creators of the middle 20th century would go in order to create bias and favoritism for their preferred agenda. (I added some to my post that I think you might enjoy!) I am also quite uninformed of the pipeline situation in Minnesota and would be interested to find out if these protests influenced policy makers.

  5. A very thoughtful set of images and prompts. A few of my thoughts were already covered in comments above. But I too, like the juxtaposition of the 3 eras. And I especially like that you used a contemporary protest in the context of patriotism. This is a great question: “When people protest against the government for positive progress and way of life, is that considered patriotism?” It especially resonates in the debate over BLM protests and others today.

    The Lange photo is a heartbreaker when you realize those Japanese American kids were bound for the camps. We’ll be exploring that more in this week’s class.

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