There is an interesting historical footnote about the turkey. This bird is an American hemispheric native species, first domesticated centuries ago by the Aztecs. In the northern hemisphere wild turkeys roamed freely in the Eastern woods, which made them readily accessible as a food source. Then sometime in the nineteenth century, for unknown reasons, it became the American Thanksgiving bird, possibly because of its size, its cooked flavor, its ease of procurement, or for all three factors.
People who shoot the wild variety will overlook the flavor factor, because for the most part a wild turkey both smells and tastes like marinated dung. In reality, there is absolutely no reason whatsoever that on only one particular day of the year we as a nation should feel compelled in unity to cook this animal.
Benjamin Franklin loved the bird; at one time having vigorously lobbied for it to be the national symbol.
“For my part, I wish the bald eagle had not been chosen representative of our country; he is a bird of bad moral character… For in truth the turkey is in comparison a much more respectable bird withal, a true original native of America.”
The Turkey also runs away when confronted with danger, suggesting that America may have had a totally different national character with a turkey as a great symbol of the Monroe Doctrine. The osmotic result may have been a nation historically less aggressive than it has been; with the same holding true for the numerous other cultures that have hoisted an Eagle flag: from ancient Egypt and Rome up to and including the Third Reich.
Imagine for example how little pride or esprit-de-corps may have been inspired in the pilots of a U.S. fighter squadron known as “The Screaming Turkeys” or conversely how little terror it may have evoked in our enemies. That is also not to mention those awe-inspiring words, “The Turkey has landed,” when we first hit the surface of the moon with a manned spacecraft.
Coincidentally, there may also be a sinister truth about our own national moral character that we as a people have almost hunted the Eagle, our national symbol, to extinction, while once a year the bird that came in second in the poll, the Turkey, is now raised commercially, then roasted and eaten by the millions.
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