The Noble Bird

bald eagle 2The Bald Eagle.  It’s our national symbol.   According to a this website, the United States government chose this noble bird “because of its long life, great strength and majestic looks—and also because they believed it only existed in North America.”

My favorite musical of all time is 1776. (Yes, I am a history nerd.  I come from a long line of history nerds.)  As a 5th grader I saw the original Broadway cast perform the show.  I was hooked.  The songs have helped me through many a US History exam.

One of my favorite songs, The Egg,  is about the hatching of the nation.  It does a great job of introducing  Benjamin Franklin’s objections to the eagle.  He criticized the eagle as a cowardly scavenger—stealing food from other birds who actually worked to hunt.  Franklin thought this bird had no business representing us.  While in the musical he capitulates fairly quickly, he persisted with his views in real life.

He strongly suggested the turkey be our national symbol.  He thought the turkey was much braver and truly indigenous to America.   Franklin makes some good points.

It makes me wonder though—would we feast on eagles if Franklin’s opinion prevailed?  Would America be the only nation that revels in roasting the national symbol as a part of national gratitude?  Would there be great debates about stuffing or dressing if the stuffing had to fit inside an eagle?  (Really—they seem smaller than the turkeys that wind up on my family’s table.) Or would we just eat chicken?

These are things I ponder.  What do you think?

photo courtesy of Steve Knight

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6 Responses to “The Noble Bird”

  1. TirzahNovember 22, 2010 at 8:58 am #

    Well, according to our British pastor (who self describes himself as having the same haircut as an eagle) we Americans are crazy enough cooking turkeys that we first bowl with while they are frozen.

    Really to other nations, I think we already seem crazy without eating a beautiful creature like the bald eagle.

  2. SherylNovember 22, 2010 at 9:51 am #

    That’s too funny! I have heard about people bowling with frozen birds. It just never occurred to me that they cook them afterwards. I suppose if they were encased in plastic it wouldn’t make them less edible? Maybe. And of course, many other nations have lots of other things to give them the idea that we’re not as sane as we might like to think.

  3. allieNovember 22, 2010 at 12:46 pm #

    I’ve heard about the turkey thing before- and I have to say that I’m very glad that Franklin didn’t get his way. =) even if bald eagles are predators

  4. SherylNovember 22, 2010 at 2:13 pm #

    I can’t say I’m sorry either, Allie. I can’t imagine having turkeys on everything related to the USA. 🙂 Hey—thanks for the Facebook note this AM. You rock!

  5. Nathan R. HaleNovember 22, 2010 at 4:02 pm #

    HA HA I remember talking about this in AP U.S. History with you (which remains one of my all-time favorite classes–beating out pretty much anything from college, too). I also remember watching 1776 in that class and loving it! I’ve watched it since and loved it just as much. A witty show, to be sure. Good times, Ms. 0, Good times…

  6. SherylNovember 22, 2010 at 4:58 pm #

    I remember making your class watch that, Nathan. There were a lot of comments that went something along the lines of, “What are we doing today? Oh! Learning about the Declaration of Independence through song and dance?!” I knew you would all love it in the end! 😀 APUSH was intense, but I loved it. The only thing that came close to it was teaching your class AP Lit and Comp—except for Heart of Darkness. That was miserable. I’m so glad you were a member of both of those!

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