THE GREAT SEAL
The Great Seal of the United States, adopted in 1782, valoidates a range of government documents (presidential proclamations, foreign treaties, commissions of office, ambassadorial accreditation, etc.). The seal itself is suffused with imagery, as befits a design that took six years to finalize, and was intended to reflect the hopes, values, and beliefs of America's Founding Fathers. The front (obverse) shows an American eagle in whose beak is a scroll inscribed with the 13-letter motto E pluribus unum [out of many, one]. In one talon, the eagle grips an olive branch (peace) with 13 leaves and 13 olives; in the other, a bundle of 13 arrows (war). A shield with 13 red and white stripes (the States) covers the eagle's breast, and overhead is a blue crest with 13 stars (America in the world). The "spiritual" reverse depicts a 13-step pyramid (strength and durability), with 1776 (the Declaration of Independence) in Roman numerals at its base and the motto Novus Ordo Seclorum [a new order of the ages]. At the pyramid's summit is the glowing Eye of Providence with the words Annuit Coeptis [He (God) favors our undertakings]. The number 13 symbolizes the number of original states in 1776.
The eye and ear approve or amend.
Bernard Malamud (1914-86)