U.S. Senators Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Robert Byrd (D-WV) today announced that the Senate unanimously approved their resolution naming June 20, 2007 “American Eagle Day” after it had been approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee last week . In addition to naming American Eagle Day, S. Res. 146 celebrates “the recovery and restoration of the American bald eagle, the national symbol of the United States.”
“One of the great recovery stories in our country is that in 1963 we only had about 400 nesting pairs of bald eagles, our national symbol,” Alexander said. “Today we have 7,000 to 8,000 pairs, thanks to the efforts of groups like the American Eagle Foundation, based in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. American Eagle Day will provide an important opportunity to recognize this success, as well as to learn about and celebrate the American ideals the eagle stands for.”
“For more than 200 years, the American bald eagle has served as a symbol of the American spirit,” Byrd said. “Our Founding Fathers, in their wisdom, recognized this magnificent creature as the embodiment of America’s soaring optimism and love of freedom. American Eagle Day will serve as an occasion to celebrate the remarkable recovery of the species, and to embrace the principles upon which our great nation was founded.”
The bald eagle was selected as America’s national symbol on June 20, 1782 during the Second Continental Congress, and is scheduled to be removed from the Endangered Species Act in June of this year. It has been protected under federal law since Congress passed the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act in 1940 and this protection was reinforced by the Endangered Species Act of 1973.
The Senate acted after receiving letters of support for the legislation from the American Eagle Foundation, former Tennessee Senator Howard Baker (R-TN), Dolly Parton, Porter Waggoner, Jack Hanna, and. The measure encourages educational entities, businesses, conservation groups, government agencies and others to collaborate on information about bald eagles for use in schools and encourages the American people to observe American Eagle Day with appropriate ceremonies and other activities.
Challenger the Bald Eagle of Pigeon Forge, TN and his handler, Al Cecere – president and CEO of the American Eagle Foundation – joined Senator Alexander, Senator Byrd and others at a press conference at the United States Capitol this April to introduce the American Eagle Day Resolution. Challenger had also joined several senators at the Capitol three years ago to introduce Alexander’s American Bald Eagle Recovery and National Emblem Commemorative Coin Act, which Senator Byrd was a cosponsor of. That legislation authorized the U.S. Mint to create a special commemorative coin that financially supports efforts to protect the American eagle and was signed into law by President Bush in December of 2004.
Other cosponsors of the American Eagle Day Resolution include Senators Bob Corker (R-TN), Edward Kennedy (D-MA),Wayne Allard (R-CO), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Mike Crapo (R-ID), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Judd Gregg (R-NH), Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Charles Schumer (D-NY), Arlen Specter (R-PA) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA).