Help Make ‘American Eagle Day’ a Nationally Recognized, Permanent Commemorative Day
American Eagle Day (June 20) is a special day to commemorate the anniversary of the Bald Eagle’s selection as our National Symbol, to celebrate its physical recovery to America’s skies, and to observe the American values, ideals and attributes for which it stands.
In 1995, at the request of the American Eagle Foundation, President Bill Clinton and Tennessee Governor Don Sundquist each recognized the first American Eagle Day. Since then, Governors from a combined total of 49 states have signed Proclamations or Letters of Recognition giving our National Bird, the Bald Eagle, its own “official day” in their state!
Until American Eagle Day was established, there had never been a “national day” set aside to annually recognize our country’s inspirational national bird and the role that it has played in our lives, past and present. Together, we can make June 20th an annual day to remember and commemorate this majestic and important American symbol.
American Eagle Day still isn’t an official national day! We need your help.
American Eagle Day Symbolism
The Bald Eagle was selected as the U.S.A.’s National Emblem by our country’s Founding Fathers on June 20, 1782 by the Second Continental Congress. For over 200 years now, it has served as the pride of America’s skies and the living symbol of all that we Americans stand for: Freedom, Courage, Strength, Spirit, and Excellence.
The Bald Eagle is deeply rooted in our nation’s heritage, folklore and environment, and has special meaning to many Americans. Eagle images and references are woven into the very fabric of our society, including our architecture, music, literature, art, clothing, and commercial products
The Comeback of the Bald Eagle
We almost lost America’s precious eagles due to the effects of DDT, destruction of habitat, hunting, and environmental carelessness. By the early 1960s, the count of nesting Bald Eagles plummeted to about 417 in the lower 48 States.
The removal of the Bald Eagle from the “threatened and endangered” species list was announced by Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne on June 28, 2007.
The Bald Eagle is now a protected species in the lower 48 states. The banning of DDT, strict protection laws, the work of conservationists and environmentalists, and the efforts of organizations like the American Eagle Foundation have all contributed to the recovery of Bald Eagles in the lower 48 states. They’ve made an amazing comeback from an estimated 417 nesting pairs in the early 60s to over 15,000 pairs today!
We have made encouraging progress, but must continue this commitment until the Bald Eagle has made a full and healthy recovery to our lands, waterways, and skies. The Bald Eagle still faces daunting post-delisting challenges—from loss of crucial nesting and foraging habitat to the threat of various contaminants, viruses and diseases.
Even newer challenges have arisen for our National Symbol: the Federal Government has extended, for 30 years, a no-penalty phase for wind energy companies whose turbines kill eagles, while the use of lead ammunition and fishing tackle among hunters and fishers leads to lead poisoningin Eagles. The Humane Association states that an estimated that 10 million to 20 million animals die each year from lead poisoning in the United States.
Letter from American Eagle Foundation
Dear Concerned Citizen,
In 1963, there were as few as 417 nesting pairs of Bald Eagles in the lower 48 states, with extinction a distinct possibility.
The publication of Silent Spring by Rachel Carson in 1962, documenting the detrimental effects of the indiscriminate use of pesticides, especially DDT, on the environment (especially birds) was a wake-up call to environmentalists, the Federal Government, concerned citizens and groups throughout the nation. Fierce opposition followed by chemical companies, but an environmental movement sprang forth from that book that would forever change the way we looked at our role as stewards of this earth.
Through concerted efforts by environmentalists, the Federal Government, and the banning of DDT, the eagle rebounded! By 2007 the nesting population had reached 10,000 in the lower 47 states, and the Bald Eagle was removed from the Threatened and Endangered Species List by the Department of the Interior and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. The comeback of the Bald Eagle represents one of the most dramatic species recoveries in the history of wildlife. Today, estimates of 15,000 nesting pairs attest to the fact that in many places the Bald Eagle is thriving.
But the Bald Eagle still needs our help! Although still protected by the Bald & Golden Eagle Protection Act, the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, & the Lacey Act—there are powerful industries that lobby congress to limit or dilute the protection these laws were designed to give. We strongly oppose any such actions.
In addition, the Bald Eagle continues to face serious threats just to survive: lead found in ammunition or fishing tackle causes suffering and death to countless eagles and other birds of prey. We ask all hunters and fishermen to use fishing tackle and ammunition that is lead free. Electrocution is another serious threat to eagles and large birds as they perch on poles supporting high voltage wires. There are alternatives in construction to protect birds from harm. Wind turbine farms kill thousands of eagles and other migratory birds each year. Steps need to be taken to ensure that turbine farms are placed in areas far away from migratory pathways and away from feeding or nesting areas. And, of course, encroachment into eagle habitat is ongoing, which impacts eagle populations in a very negative way – so whenever a major construction plan is presented, an environmental impact study should first be done.
On behalf of the American Eagle Foundation, I am inviting citizens, students, teachers, civic organizations, and families to join us in our mission to proclaim American Eagle Day in all 50 states. Thank you for your support and efforts on behalf of our Nation’s Living Symbol.
President, American Eagle Foundation