Lee Pitts: Ben was right
I suppose it’s treasonous for me to say this but I can think of at least three animals that deserve to be on our national emblem and our money more than the bald eagle. Dogs and cows for instance. Better still, the horse.
Our founding fathers argued for six years before settling on the eagle, supposedly because Charlemagne, Napoleon and the Romans thought so highly of it. I think it was about the only mistake they made. For one thing the bald eagle is, well, it’s bald. It wears the few feathers on its head like a vain, over-the-hill movie star wears a bad toupee. What does it say about our country that we chose a bald bird to represent us when it could have been a noble steed that is not follicularly challenged?
The bald eagle builds the biggest nest of any bird, and it builds these McMansions in old growth forests in wetland habitat. If a person did something like that we’d hang him. The bald eagle dines on gizzard shad, suckers, salmon, fawns, cute little baby lambs and dead fish that float to the top. It lives off the hard work of others as 18 percent of its diet comes from eating fish it opportunistically stole from other birds and animals. It often eats decaying flesh that it was too lazy to kill itself. If the bald eagle was a person it would be on welfare and food stamps.
We admire the bald eagle because it supposedly mates for life but scientists now say that if a male eagle leaves for a business trip to Chicago, when he comes home there will be a new baldy in the house. It also rankles me that in this era of male emasculation that the female bald eagle is 25 percent bigger than the male. Don’t you know women’s libbers love that! And it had to be protected, like some runt in a schoolyard, by the Endangered Species Act, Threatened Species List and the National Emblem Act.
No less of a man than Ben Franklin agreed with me. He said the bald eagle “is generally poor and often very lousy” and is “a bird of bad moral character. He does not get his living honestly. Besides, he is a rank coward,” said Ben. “The little King Bird not bigger than a sparrow attacks him and boldly and drives him out of his district.” This is the symbol for our nation of heroes who stormed the beaches on D-Day?
How much more representative it would be if our national symbol was the horse, one of the most intellectual species on earth, who pulled our guns in battle and our plows in peace. Yes, the beautiful majestic horse who always pulls his own weight and bravely carried our heroic soldiers in numerous wars, a million and a half horses giving their lives in the Civil War alone. I dare you to cite a single incident where a bald eagle laid down its life for our country.
The noble horse is easily approachable and often smarter than the person on its back. The horse supports our farmers and ranchers by eating hay and grain, instead of picking over the bones of a pack of wolves’ leftovers, like bald eagles do.
Unlike the eagle, we work and recreate on equines. We bet on them and watch great horse movies like Seabiscuit and Man from Snowy River. Name one movie where a bald eagle brought a tear to your eyes or caused a lump in your throat.
I know far too much money and stationery has already been printed with the bald eagle on it, so it probably can’t be eliminated entirely. But there is a simple solution. Did you know that the bald eagle is both our national bird and our national animal? How silly. A bird is not an animal. So if we must, let’s leave the bald eagle our national bird but make the horse our national animal. It’s the least we can do for an animal that helped settle this great country. Then our national emblem, instead of a bald bird holding some arrows, which you hardly ever see in real life, can be two horses with their heads at each other’s rump, head to tail, swatting flies for each other. Working together to make life better.
Now there’s a concept all Americans can embrace.
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