Have you ever seen a turkey soar? by Bob Karolevitz "Have you ever written about turkeys?" Phyllis wanted to know.
"No, and I'm not going to," I announced defiantly. "I'm an eagle man, and I've been anti-Ben Franklin ever since he wrote that a turkey would be a better choice for our national bird."
"When did he say that?" my incredulous wife asked. "You just made that up."
"I didn't either," I argued. "He said that in a letter to Sarah Bache (whoever she was?) back in 1784. Here's the way he put it, and I quote:"
"I wish the bald eagle had not been chosen as the representative of our country," Benny wrote. "He is a bird of bad moral character; like those among men who live by sharping and robbing, he is generally poor, and often very lousy.
"The turkey is a much more respectable bird, and withal a true original native of America."
Well, as far as I'm concerned Franklin could go back to writing bon mots for Poor Richard's Almanac and leave the bird business to someone else � particularly one favoring eagles.
Actually, the reason Phyllis brought up turkeys is that Thanksgiving comes this month, and Butter Balls are the rage. We've all grown up with visions of a roasted turkey on a platter, with Dad ready to do the carving.
Even Norman Rockwell got into the act with one of his paintings. But his turkey was to be eaten, which is what turkeys are for. Even the Puritans knew that. However, I've never seen a defeathered eagle on a platter!
Of course, I've written about leftovers, which is what you get a lot of when there are just two of us at the table. James Dent said it best when he wrote: "Eternity is two people � and a turkey."
But I digress!
After all, this column is about an eagle and a broad-breasted gobbler becoming the national symbol, not whether it tastes good at Thanksgiving.
Ben Franklin may have done all right with his kite experiment, but he was wrong on this one. He made a dumb choice, and his reputation suffers from it, at least with me.
I believe in Mom, cocker spaniels and apple pie, but eagles are right up there, too. Tom turkeys may look good when they strut their stuff, but those neck whattles are something else. They just don't belong on a national bird. Excuse me, but I doubt if Franklin ever saw one up close.
Eagles are splendor in flight with their huge wing spans and their ability to glide on the thermal climes. They soar on high, and turkeys barely get off the ground.
A good golf shot is an eagle, not a turkey. And have you ever heard of a Turkey Scout?
Needless to say, I disagree with Benny Boy when it comes to choosing a symbol for our country. I'm glad he didn't win out because his choice was a lousy one. Besides that, it would have raised hob with our Thanksgiving menu.
Frankly, I'll take my turkey with mashed potatoes and gravy. The eagle I'll revere almost as much as Old Glory.
© 2004 Robert F. Karolevitz