Eagle Vs. Turkey

Discussion in 'Current Events' started by Adam's Apple, Nov 25, 2004.

  1. Adam's Apple
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    Adam's Apple Senior Member

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    Question submitted to our local newspaper’s Q&A column:

    Is it true that Benjamin Franklin wanted the turkey to be our national bird, or is this just another urban legend?

    Answer:

    Letter from Benjamin Franklin to his daughter Sarah dated January 26, 1784:

    “I wish the bald eagle had not been chosen as the representative of our country; he is a bird of bad moral character; he does not get his living honestly; you may have seen him perched on some dead tree, where, too lazy to fish for himself, he watches the labor 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. With all this injustice, he is never in good case; but, like those among men who live by sharping and robbing, he is generally poor and often very lousy. Besides, he is a rank coward; the little kingbird, not bigger than a sparrow, attacks him boldly and drives him out of the district. He is therefore by no means a proper emblem….of America. For in truth, the turkey is, in comparison, a much more respectable bird and withal a true original native of America. He is, besides, (though a little vain and silly, it is true, but not the worse emblem for that) a bird of courage and would not hesitate to attack a grenadier of the British guards who should presume to invade his farmyard with a red coat on.”

    Maybe if Franklin had had his way, American lads would undertake difficult tasks to earn the coveted rank of Turkey Scout. Our failed attempt to rescue American hostages from Iran in 1980 would be remembered as Operation Turkey Claw, and the Army’s famous 101st Airborne Division would be known as “The Screaming Turkeys.”
     
  2. musicman
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    musicman Senior Member

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    The more I learn about the irrepressible Mr. Franklin, the more amazing and amusing I find him. But, I have to say, I'm with you on this one, Adam's Apple. I'm glad he didn't get his way on the national bird.
     
  3. Adam's Apple
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    Adam's Apple Senior Member

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    This aroused my interest as to why the eagle was chosen as the emblem of our country. Will have to do some research on this, unless someone on the board already knows and can save me the effort. What I am reading into what Franklin wrote to his daughter was that he believed the eagle to be a predator and a coward, neither of which applies to the United States as a people or a country. So that leaves me wondering what the reasons were for selecting the eagle.
     
  4. Zhukov
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    Zhukov VIP Member

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    Probably because it looks cool. The Founding Fathers were after all just men.
     
  5. Zhukov
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    Zhukov VIP Member

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    I personally would have preferred an owl.1,2

    (which incidentally would have been funny in WW2 as in Japanese culture the owl is a symbol of death and seeing one is a bad omen)
     
  6. dilloduck
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    dilloduck Diamond Member

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    Or they noticed a few eagles flying around while they were chowing down on a turkey leg. :teeth:
     
  7. Zhukov
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    Zhukov VIP Member

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    Exactly, you can't eat the national bird. Hence turkey (no 'the') was not going to be the national bird.
     
  8. UsaPride
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    UsaPride Senior Member

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    This is all I could find.
    http://www1.va.gov/opa/feature/celebrate/eagle.htm
     
  9. Zhukov
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    Zhukov VIP Member

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    Exactly. It looks cool.
     
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  10. Zhukov
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    Zhukov VIP Member

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    I wonder what that means.
     

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