President Ronald Reagan first issued a proclamation for National Bald Eagle Day in 1982 commemorating the 200th anniversary of this majestic creature becoming our nation’s symbol. Man’s stupidity nearly eradicated the eagle from the earth but thankfully we wised up and it has made a miraculous recovery. Now we have the privilege of seeing them regularly and marveling at their beauty. I cannot think of a more fitting creature to symbolize the United States of America. The text of that first proclamation follows:
Proclamation 4893—Bicentennial Year of the American Bald Eagle and National Bald Eagle Day
January 28, 1982
By the President of the United States of America
Whether silhouetted against the sky on a rocky pinnacle in Alaska or soaring majestically overhead in Florida, the bald eagle is admired as one of nature’s most spectacular creatures.
To catch a glimpse of this majestic raptor is to understand why the Founding Fathers chose it to represent the strength and courage of our great Nation. Its grace and power in flight, its vigilance and loyalty in defending its family group, and, most of all, its courage make the eagle a proud and appropriate symbol for the United States. Its presence on the Great Seal of the United States—one talon extending the olive branch of peace, the other brandishing the arrows of defense—is a symbol of friendship and cooperation to our allies and a warning to our adversaries that we are not to be trod upon.
No one is certain what the original United States population of the bird was, although it may have approached 75,000 – 100,000. We do know, however, that its extinction has become a disheartening possibility in recent years.
We have sought to prevent that possibility by restricting the use of certain pesticides. Shooting and habitat destruction are also being brought under control as a result of protection and conservation programs conducted under the Bald Eagle Protection Act and the Endangered Species Act. Scientists believe we are now beginning to see a subtle but definite population increase through the cooperative efforts of Federal and State fish and wildlife agencies, conservation and industrial groups, scientists, and private citizens. These efforts are truly indicative of the spirit of cooperation and perseverance which is at the very heart of our national character.
On June 20, 1782, the bald eagle became our Nation’s symbol and national bird. As we approach the bicentennial anniversary of that event, we have an excellent opportunity to pause and reflect upon the importance of the bald eagle, indeed of all our fish and wildlife resources, to a healthy America. On this occasion, let us renew our commitment and dedication to the conservation of our natural heritage as symbolized by the bald eagle.
Now, Therefore, I, Ronald Reagan, President of the United States of America, in accordance with a joint resolution of the Congress (SJ. Res. 121), do hereby proclaim June 20, 1982 as “National Bald Eagle Day” and designate the year 1982 as the “Bicentennial Year of the American Bald Eagle.” I call upon the people of the United States to join in these observances with appropriate activities in their homes and communities.
In Witness Whereof, I have hereunto set my hand this 28th day of January in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and eighty-two, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and sixth.