Reveal the evolving meaning of “The Statue of Liberty” in ICONIC AMERICA: OUR SYMBOLS AND STORIES WITH DAVID RUBENSTEIN – July 11 at 10 pm

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Series Explores American History Through Iconic National Symbols Across the Country


The eight-episode documentary series ICONIC AMERICA: OUR SYMBOLS AND STORIES WITH DAVID RUBENSTEIN continues Tuesday, July 11, 2023, at 10:00 p.m. ET on PBS stations nationwide and and the PBS app.

David Rubenstein on the South Ferry, financial district of NYC in the background
David Rubenstein on the South Ferry.

In ICONIC AMERICA, David M. Rubenstein – co-founder of The Carlyle Group, patriotic philanthropist, lifelong student of history, and the series’ host and executive producer – explores American history through a close examination of iconic national symbols: indelible artifacts, places, and archetypes. Rubenstein is on location and in conversation with historical thinkers, community members, and subject matter experts. Together, they dive deeply into each symbol’s history and how its meaning has changed over time, using these symbols as a gateway to understanding America’s past and present. Emmy-Award-winning production company Show of Force is also an executive producer.

The subjects of the series’ eight episodes are Fenway Park, the Hollywood Sign, the Gadsden Flag, the American Cowboy, the Statue of Liberty, the American Bald Eagle, Stone Mountain, and the Golden Gate Bridge The series spotlights how these icons were created and how the perception of them formed and changed. These manifestations of our cultural history are sometimes highly contested as different groups invest them with distinct meanings. The symbols that endure speak to what a society values and how people see themselves ─ and they help us to contextualize a nation’s shared past in the present moment.

“I’ve long been struck by the strength of American symbols while saddened by how little we know about them,” said Rubenstein. “Our goal with this series was to explore the history and meaning of these iconic symbols and to better understand the bigger issues and societal currents they reveal. I am grateful to WETA for its confidence in and support of this project and to Show of Force for helping to create a remarkable series.”

“David brings his unique mix of wry humor, relentless curiosity, and deep engagement with history to this exploration of how we interpret our iconic American symbols throughout the country,” noted Rockefeller. “This series offers viewers a new perspective on how we tell    and retell  our American story.”

Statue of Liberty crown.
Statue of Liberty crown

Rubenstein’s quest for a deeper understanding of these symbols takes him on a journey to an array of regions and communities, from Boston to San Francisco and New York to Oklahoma City. He conducts interviews with historians and history makers from the worlds of sports, politics, entertainment, and academia, including David “Big Papi” Ortiz (former Red Sox player) and Lake Iolani Stevens (Women’s Ranch Bronc Champion); Rep.  James E. Clyburn (D-SC) and former Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL); Sylvester Stallone (actor, screenwriter, and filmmaker) and Melissa Rivers (writer, host, and producer); Hasan Kwame Jeffries (associate professor of history at The Ohio State University) and Michael Boulware Moore (chief executive officer of the International African American Museum).


“Statue of Liberty”

Premieres Tuesday, July 11, 2023 at 10:00 p.m. ET

This episode surveys the evolving meaning the Statue of Liberty has for a “nation of immigrants” and how it embodies our values and our conflicts, from abolition and women’s suffrage to the treatment of refugees.


“American Bald Eagle”

Premieres Tuesday, July 18, 2023 at 10:00 p.m. ET

In this episode, discover how the American Bald Eagle soared to its vaunted perch in American iconography, a symbol not only of patriotism but also of environmental activism and Native American traditions.


“Stone Mountain”

Premieres Tuesday, July 25, 2023 at 10:00 p.m. ET

This episode considers the fate of the Monument at Stone Mountain in Georgia, revealing a nation wrestling with its past as Confederate statues are being removed across the country.


“The Golden Gate Bridge”

Premieres Tuesday, August 1, 2023 at 10:00 p.m. ET

The Golden Gate Bridge is an engineering marvel that symbolizes America’s can-do spirit. This episode explores if America can continue to execute bold and ambitious infrastructure projects in the 21st century.