April 11, 2015,
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Canon EOS 7D Mark II
Canon EF 600mm f/4L, Canon 1.4x teleconverter (840mm)
It’s Thanksgiving week, so having a turkey for my photo of the week makes sense.
After all, the turkey is the traditional featured dish in the Thanksgiving meal. According to historians, turkeys were plentiful in eastern North America when the first settlers arrived, making it logical to serve turkey at the 1621 feast between the pilgrims and Native Americans traditionally called the first Thanksgiving.
But would Thanksgiving meal be different today if others had shared Benjamin Franklin’s view that the turkey, and not the Bald Eagle, should be the national symbol?
Historians say that’s a myth, and that Franklin never formally proposed using the turkey as the national symbol. Instead, he said the eagle in the design for a proposed Great Seal for the United States looked like a turkey.
But Franklin, in a letter to his daughter available on the web site for The Franklin Institute, questioned the choice of the eagle, mentioning that the design did look like a turkey, then expounding on the merits of each bird:
“For my own part I wish the Bald Eagle had not been chosen the Representative of our Country. He is a Bird of bad moral Character. He does not get his Living honestly. You may have seen him perched on some dead Tree near the River, where, too lazy to fish for himself, he watches the Labour of the Fishing Hawk; and when that diligent Bird has at length taken a Fish, and is bearing it to his Nest for the Support of his Mate and young Ones, the Bald Eagle pursues him and takes it from him. With all this injustice, he is never in good case but like those among men who live by sharping & robbing he is generally poor and often very lousy. Besides he is a rank coward: The little King Bird not bigger than a Sparrow attacks him boldly and drives him out of the district. He is therefore by no means a proper emblem for the brave and honest Cincinnati of America who have driven all the King birds from our country… I am on this account not displeased that the Figure is not known as a Bald Eagle, but looks more like a Turkey. For the Truth the Turkey is in Comparison a much more respectable Bird, and withal a true original Native of America… He is besides, though a little vain & silly, a Bird of Courage, and would not hesitate to attack a Grenadier of the British Guards who should presume to invade his Farm Yard with a red Coat on.”
So … if the turkey had become the national symbol, does that mean we would be eating farm-raised Bald Eagles on Thanksgiving?
Food for thought …
Each week I will post a photo from my collection with an explanation of how I got the shot. Previous photos of the week are in the archives.