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Facts About the Bald Eagle as an American Symbol: Lesson for Kids

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  • 0:04 National Symbol
  • 0:23 Symbol of a New Country
  • 1:12 Why a Bald Eagle?
  • 1:58 More Bald Eagle Facts
  • 2:51 Lesson Summary
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Instructor: Suzanne Rose

Suzanne has taught all levels PK-graduate school and has a PhD in Instructional Systems Design. She currently teachers literacy courses to preservice and inservice teachers.

Did you know that Benjamin Franklin didn't want to have the bald eagle as a symbol of the United States? In this lesson, you'll find out why the bald eagle was chosen and what bird Franklin wanted instead.

National Symbol

Have you ever noticed that the bald eagle shows up on many coins and flags in the United States? That's because the bald eagle is one of the US national symbols. When people see the bald eagle, they often think of the United States. How did this happen? Why was the bald eagle selected to represent the country? Let's check it out!

Symbol of a New Country

The bald eagle has been a symbol of the United States for about 235 years. It was put on the Great Seal of the United States on June 20, 1782, after much discussion by members of the government.

The bald eagle on the Great Seal wears a shield with 13 red and white stripes along with a blue patch with 13 white stars. It holds an olive branch (a symbol for peace) in one talon and a bundle of 13 arrows in the other. In its beak, it carries a banner that has the words, 'E Pluribus Unum,' which is the motto of the United States. It means ''Out of many, one.'' This motto means that one nation was made out of many different colonies and was united.

In 1789, about seven years after it was put on the Great Seal, the bald eagle was officially adopted as an emblem, or a symbol of the United States.

Why a Bald Eagle?

The bald eagle was chosen as a symbol for the United States for several reasons. It is a beautiful bird that has been described as majestic, which means 'like a king.' A bald eagle is free to soar through the skies, which was a great symbol for the US as a new country that had just fought for its freedom from England.

The bald eagle is very strong and lives a long time. Those are traits that a new country would like to have! The bald eagle also lives in North America, which is where the United States is located.

One story about the American Revolution claims that at an early battle of the war, the noise of the fighting woke up the bald eagles in the nearby mountains. As the birds swooped down from their nests, they began to make loud cries. The American soldiers are said to have thought the bald eagles were ''shrieking for freedom.''

More Bald Eagle Facts

Let's learn some more bald eagle facts.

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