The red cap is known as the liberty cap or Phrygian cap. According to legend and tradition, this red cap was worn by slaves in ancient Rome who had somehow obtained their freedom. They wore the red cap to hide the brand of slavery on their heads, and to show the world that while they once had been slaves, they were now free.
The red cap and wooden pole were important symbols of the American Revolution. If you look at the two ladies pictured on the New Jersey state flag, one representing Liberty and the other Prosperity, you will notice that the Goddess of Liberty is holding those symbols.
The wooden pole, or pike, was also a symbol of liberty. Before Americans built a society where almost every farmer owned a firearm, the only weapon available to farmers, craftsmen, and tradesmen in Europe was a simple wooden pole or pike.
This weapon was totally useless against a knight or nobleman who rode a horse, wore armor, and carried a sword, lance, or gun. If any ordinary citizen dared to defend his home, his property or his freedom alone, using a pike as a weapon, he would be killed instantly.
If the rest of the ordinary citizens in a county stayed home and did nothing when a handful of knights or nobles abused their power and wrongfully robbed another citizen of his or her liberty or property – if they had the attitude “They’re not coming after me so it’s not my problem,” then nobody in the county had any rights. Anyone could lose everything at any time.
But if every citizen in the county picked up his wooden pike to defend any citizen whose rights were threatened, they would overwhelm the knights and the nobles and the liberty and property of every citizen was secure.
The Americans who created our nation in 1776, “four score and seven” (87) years before Lincoln gave his famous speech at Gettysburg, combined the symbols of the red liberty cap and the wooden pole to remind us that we are free, and no longer slaves.
But our freedom depends on certain obligations. Each of us – not some judge or lawyer – has a personal obligation to read and understand each of the unalienable rights that are written and described in the Declaration of Independence and our Constitution and to teach our children to do the same.
Once you know and understand those rights, it is your personal obligation to protect and defend them – not just for you and your family, but for every American – even if it costs you everything you have, including your life.