By Utah National Parks Council
Nov 11, 2013

American Eagle: An Enduring Symbol of American Freedom

The bald eagle is the national bird of the United States. In 1776 Benjamin Franklin, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson included it on the nation’s seal. The eagle is an enduring symbol of American freedom.

Condensed from Ben’s Guide to U.S. Government –

SealThe Great Seal of the United States:

“On July 4, 1776, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, and Thomas Jefferson were given the task of creating a seal for the 13 United States of America. The delegates of the Constitutional Convention believed an emblem and national coat of arms would be evidence of an independent nation and a free people with high aspirations and grand hopes for the future.

The Great Seal was finalized and approved six years later on June 20, 1782. The symbols on the seal reflect the beliefs and values that the Founding Fathers wanted to pass on to their descendants.

Symbols on Obverse of Great Seal:

Eagle: In the center of the seal is a bald eagle (our national bird). The eagle holds a scroll in its beak inscribed with the Latin motto E pluribus Unum – which means Out of Many, One (one nation created from 13 colonies). The eagle grasps an olive branch in its left talons and a bundle of thirteen arrows in its right. The olive branch and arrows are symbols for the power of peace and war.

Shield: A shield with thirteen red and white stripes covers the eagle’s breast. The shield is supported solely by the American eagle as a symbol that Americans rely on their own virtue.

The red and white stripes of the shield represent the states united under and supporting the blue, which represents the President and Congress. The color white is a symbol of purity and innocence; red represents hardiness and valor; and blue signifies vigilance, perseverance, and justice.

Cloud: Above the eagle’s head is a cloud surrounding a blue field containing thirteen stars which form a constellation. The constellation denotes that a new State is taking its place among other nations. [1]

Eagle ScoutThe Eagle Scout Award. It’s Scouting’s highest rank and among its most familiar icons. Men who have earned it count it among their most treasured possessions. Those who missed it by a whisker remember exactly which requirement they didn’t complete. Americans from all walks of life know that being an Eagle Scout is a great honor, even if they don’t know just what the badge means. [3]

The award is more than a badge. It’s a state of being. You are an Eagle Scout—never were. You may have received the badge as a boy, but you earn it every day as a man. In the words of the Eagle Scout Promise, you do your best each day to make your training and example, your rank and your influence count strongly for better Scouting and for better citizenship in your troop, in your community, and in your contacts with other people. And to this you pledge your sacred honor.

Author: Heidi Sanders | Marketing & PR Director, Utah National Parks Council



1. See State, Symbols, USA, “Great Seal of the United States.”

2. Video, see Fox News, “Challenger, the eagle’s Veteran day salute,” (2013, November 11).

3. See National Eagle Scout Association, “The History of the Eagle Scout Award.”

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