The Fourth of July is the day in which the United States of America commemorates its independence. In 1776, July 4th, the Second Continental Congress ratified the “unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States”. In this document, the so-called Thirteen Colonies officially declared their total disconnection from the British Crown, putting an end to a one year conflict.
Located on 147, Presidente Wilson Avenue, in Rio de Janeiro, designed in 1952 by the same architects responsible for New York ONU´s headquarters building – Wallace K. Harrison and Max Abramovitz, from the firm Harrison & Abramovitz -, and having the gardens designed by Brazilian landscape architect Roberto Burle Marx, the building of the then U. S. Embassy in Brazil carries in its Mexico Street façade a huge 500 kg bas relief.
Built with the same roman travertine marble, it represents the obverse of the Great Seal of the United States. An open winged bald eagle – Haliaeetus leucocephalus -, symbol of the country, carries in its left claw a bundle of thirteen arrows, alluding to the thirteen original colonies. A branch of olive – also with thirteen fruits and thirteen leaves – goes in its right claw. It is the symbol of Peace. The eagle has its head faced to the olive branch, announcing the country´s choice for peace. At the beak, a banner reads E PLURIBUS UNUM, the American national motto, which means OUT OF MANY, ONE. Above its head lies a festoon in which we can observe an hexagram formed by thirteen stars – a new allusion to the thirteen colonies. Facing its chest the bird has a pennant with – guess how many? – thirteen vertical stripes.
The relief was modeled by the austrian sculptor based in Rio Herbert Arthur Reiner. It has made such a success among its commissioners that they´ve ordered an identical copy to decorate the 1953 American embassy building in Havana, Cuba, designed at the same period by the same architecs.