In Defense Of The Bald Eagle

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The bald eage is in trouble. Big trouble. Not only is his physical existence threatened, but historians are attacking his status as the proud and soaring symbol of the Republic.
 
Naturalists report that there are fewer than a thousand pairs of this native species left in the entire country. The guns of hunters, the inroads of civilization, and the ingestion of DDT in dead fish are killing them off.
 
The bald eagle is in trouble. Big trouble. Not only is his physical existence threatened, but historians are attacking his status as the proud and soaring symbol of the Republic.
 
Naturalists report that there are fewer than a thousand pairs of this native species left in the entire country. The guns of hunters, the inroads of civilization, and the ingestion of DDT in dead fish are killing them off.

As if the eagle did not have enough troubles, along comes Professor Richard B. Morris of Columbia University to deliver the unkindest cut of all. Writing in The New York Times several months ago, he decried the eagle as a symbol of the bristling American imperialism we are trying to forget.

From the pages of history he called up a powerful ally. Benjamin Franklin, a member of the original committee assigned to choose the seal of the United States, did not like eagles, preferring the turkey, “a much more respectable Bird, and a true Native of America.” Professor Morris himself proposed to substitute the head of the Statue of Liberty, “the true symbol of America’s hospitality to all creeds, races and national stocks.”

But even that gracious lady seems unlikely to replace the eagle in American hearts. And what red-blooded American could thrill to the strains of “Under the Double Turkey”? How could we eat our national symbol in such vast quantities on Thanksgiving? Who would want his son to be a Turkey Scout?
 
Even the original Americans, the Indians, held the eagle in high repute. In the “Invitation Song” of the Iroquois occur these stirring lines:

Screaming the night away,/ With his great wing feathers swooping the darkness up;/ I hear the Eagle-bird pulling the blanket back/ Off from the eastern sky.