In a private letter to his daughter, Ben Franklin mocked the emblem of the Society of Cincinnati (a Revolutionary War soldier society), which featured an eagle. Unfortunately for the society, he observed that it looked more like a turkey head–not a very flattering comparison–except that he preferred the turkey!
He wrote that the eagle “is a Bird of bad moral Character…You may have seen him perched on some dead Tree near the River, where, too lazy to fish for himself, he watches the Labour of the Fishing Hawk; and when that diligent Bird has at length taken a Fish, and is bearing it to his Nest for the Support of his Mate and young Ones, the Bald Eagle pursues him and takes it from him… I am on this account not displeased that the Figure is not known as a Bald Eagle, but looks more like a Turkey. For the Truth, the Turkey is in Comparison a much more respectable Bird, and withal a true original Native of America…”
Ben did acknowledge the turkeys’ vanity. They gobble and bluster and fluff out their feathers as their defense. They may chase intruders but that is where their skills end. Unfortunately, they build their nests close to the ground and their flying abilities are limited. Eagles scream through the sky with sharp talons and beaks and amazing vision. They make their nests on high ground that can be defended.
Eagles have stunning aeronautical skills. They command respect. The majority of founding fathers concurred: “The bald eagle was chosen June 20, 1782 as the emblem of the United States of America, because of its long life, great strength and majestic looks, and also because it was then believed to exist only on this continent.”
Tell me, which bird would you rather watch?
So respectfully, Mr. Franklin, a wrinkled featherless turkey head just can’t compare with the noble mien of an eagle. I don’t mind decorating with a turkey at Thanksgiving, but give me an eagle the rest of the year, please!
This month, in honor of our national emblem, FlagRUs is having an eagle flag giveaway. Click here for more information.
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