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The American Bald Eagle: A Noble Past And A Promising Future

By M Dee Dubroff     Jun 30, 2007 in World
How and when did the Bald Eagle become the national bird of the United States of America? Read the fascinating history of this amazing bird and its connection to the greatest country in the world.(Take it easy, Canada. You are great too.)
Since the Second Continental Congress on June 20, 1782, the American Bald Eagle has been the living symbol and national emblem (Seal) of The United States of America. It was the choice of the founding fathers because it is a species unique to North America. The current design, which includes a Bald Eagle grasping arrows and an olive branch with its talons, remains unchanged through the years. There is probably no symbol of America more recognizable than the face of this bird that appears on most official seals, including the Seal of the President of the United States.
One very famous early American, Ben Franklin, fought the selection of the eagle as the national bird all the way. He wanted the honors to go to the wild turkey because he felt that the eagle had a bad “moral character.” In 1784, after the end of the Revolutionary War, Franklin wrote a famous letter to his daughter from Paris criticizing the choice of his colleagues. In his own words:
“For my own part I wish the Bald Eagle had not been chosen the Representative of our Country. He is a Bird of bad moral character. He does not get his Living honestly. The Turkey is in Comparison a much more respectable Bird, and withal a true original Native of America.”
Between 1916 and 1945, the Presidential Flag showed an eagle facing to its left (the viewer's right), which gave rise to the urban legend that the seal is changed to have the eagle face towards the olive branch in peace, and towards the arrows in wartime.
Many North American cultures consider The Bald Eagle to be a sacred bird, and its feathers, like those of the Golden Eagle, are traditional essentials to many religious and spiritual customs among Native Americans. Current eagle feather law stipulates that only individuals of certifiable Native American ancestry enrolled in a federally recognized tribe are legally authorized to obtain Bald or Golden Eagle feathers for religious or spiritual use.
The American Bald Eagle is making a comeback and has been removed from the endangered species list.
Here’s to a long and promising future.
We salute you, proud bird.
More about National, Historic, Animal, Birds, Endangered species