Saving a symbol

Published 9:51 am Friday, June 29, 2007

By Staff
It couldn’t have come at a better time.
The federal government’s decision to take the American bald eagle off the endangered species list just before the Fourth of July should add meaning to Independence Day celebrations across the nation.
The announcement was made at the Jefferson Memorial on Thursday by Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne.
The Interior Department made the bird’s recovery official by removing the eagle from the list of threatened species under the Endangered Species Act. The bird had been reclassified from endangered to threatened in 1995.
According to a story by The Associated Press, President Bush said the bald eagle’s resurgence after a four-decade-old fight should be credited to cooperation between private landowners and federal and state governments. ‘‘This great conservation achievement means more and more Americans across the nation will enjoy the thrill of seeing bald eagles soar,’’ he said.
This is one issue on which the president is right. When it comes to things associated with the United States of America, the American bald eagle joins the American flag and Uncle Sam as the most recognizable symbols.
As meaningful as the American bald eagle coming off the endangered species list is, it is just as meaningful to make sure efforts are made to keep it from returning to that list. The American bald eagle’s decline came during a time in which the bird was hunted and became a victim of DDT, a pesticide.
State laws and a federal law, passed by Congress 67 years ago, that make it illegal to kill a bald eagle remain in effect. Those laws must be rigidly enforced. Anyone who purposely kills a bald illegal should be punished.
The bald eagle’s image is found on U.S. currency. The bald eagle is found on flags. The bald eagle is on the Great Seal of the United States. The bald eagle is as American as jazz, baseball and the Fourth of July. The bald eagle is intertwined with American history and culture.
It’s the presence in American history and culture that demands the bald eagle continue to be protected.
The bald eagle’s recovery should be celebrated, too.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is promoting that idea. And with the Fourth of July just days away, what better way to celebrate the bald eagle’s recovery than celebrating that fact on Independence Day? There are several Fourth of July celebrations in the area, Belhaven and Washington come to mind, where such celebrations could be conducted.
There are several ways people may celebrate the bird’s return. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service suggests the following ways:
The best present the American people can give their nation on its next birthday is a commitment to making sure the bald eagle never nears extinction.
The bald eagle has served America well as national symbol for years. America can best serve the bald eagle by making sure it continues to soar.