No. 1287



Several years ago when I was working in the production department for a printing company, we used to have a saying: “The eagle has flown.” This saying was heard mostly on Fridays, because this was payday and the day that checks were passed out. The eagle in this case was synonymous with money, because over the years the picture of this majestic bird has been printed on different denominations of our nation’s currency.
Most people know that the American Bald Eagle is America’s symbol, but there is a story behind this fact that may not be common knowledge. In the earliest days of our nation’s history, our forefathers decided we needed a national bird that would be symbolic of the character and values of our people. In the beginning, there was a great deal of sentiment for the wild turkey because of its keen eyesight, elusive qualities and the fact that it provided food and other benefits, especially in regard to the tradition of Thanksgiving.
The eagle won out for reasons I’ll share a bit later, but this is probably the basis for the saying we have all heard: “You can soar with the eagles or roost with the turkeys.” This is the reason many people began to refer to someone else as a “turkey.” In relation to this, I want to share a true story that you may appreciate.
The former chairman of the board of a large bank in our state was a well-known civic leader, wealthy and very aggressive, but small in size -- around 5 feet, 6 inches tall. Quite naturally, in a large organization with several hundred employees, it takes a while for people to get to know each other, especially new people who have just been hired. One day this chairman got off the elevator on a floor where you must have security clearance. A new security guard who thought she was just doing her job hollered, “Hey, turkey, where are you going?” Sadly, what this lady didn’t know is that this man was not a turkey. He was an eagle and she lost her job. As I said, this is a true story.
For thousands of years throughout the world, the eagle has been admired for its grandeur, its grace in flight, its great size and awesome power. It gets its name from the white head feathers that give it the appearance of being bald. The soaring eagle in flight so captivated the imagination of our nation’s forefathers, they adopted it as our national bird and it came to be a symbol of the true meaning of liberty.
Our national symbol, however, is much more than what “meets the eye.” The eagle displays a sense of responsibility that is a companion of genuine liberty. He mates for life and returns to the same nest each year, making necessary repairs and additions. He takes an active role in providing for his family and teaching his young to fly. While this may appear to be redundant, it’s far too important to miss. The reason the bald eagle is America’s symbol is because he possesses many of those characteristics and qualities that has made America great and must be re-instilled in our society if we are to preserve the freedom which God has so graciously entrusted to us.
We live in a day when symbols have almost become America’s stock in trade, so the next time you see an American Bald Eagle, stop for a moment and think about what he represents: the United States of America, the greatest nation on earth. In view of what I have shared, I want to leave you with this verse from the Bible: “Yet those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength. They will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary.” Isaiah 40:31.
(Editor’s Note: This is one of the columns in Jim’s new book “Better than the Best.” For a personally signed copy, send $20 (includes postage and handling) to Jim Davidson, 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034).