American Eagle Day in the United States
American Eagle Day celebrates one of the most recognizable American national symbols – the once-endangered bald eagle.
Celebrated annually on June 20, the observance commemorates the day in 1782, when the bird was added to the official Seal of the United States.
An American Symbol
On the front side of the Great Seal of the United States, a bald eagle is depicted holding an olive branch in its right talon and 13 arrows in its left. The olive branch and arrows symbolize the United States' commitment to peace and its readiness for war, while the number of arrows – 13 – refers to the original 13 states.
This side of the seal is considered the coat of arms of the US and is used on most official US government documents.
In addition to being an important American national symbol, bald eagles hold significant value in many Native American cultures and religions, where the birds signify freedom, strength, honesty, wisdom, and power.
A Conservation Success
Both the national bird and animal of the United States, bald eagles were brought back from the brink of extinction in the mid-1990s after a nationwide conservation and protection effort. Due to the widespread use of pesticides such as DDT, illegal hunting practices and the destruction of their natural habitats by human activity, the numbers of these majestic birds of prey fell down to a mere 400 in the 1960s.
After DDT was banned in the US and Canada, the numbers of the birds started to grow. By 1995, the birds were removed from the endangered species list. It is hard to accurately count the number of bald eagles, but scientists currently estimate that in the late 2000s, there were about 10,000 nesting pairs of birds in the contiguous United States.
Celebrating American Eagle Day
The first American Eagle Day was proclaimed by President Bill Clinton in 1995. Since then 41 American states have made the day an official observance. From 2007 onwards, the US Senate has also passed resolutions to mark June 20 of the year as American Eagle Day. The American Eagle Foundation is at the forefront of organizing and sponsoring events on this holiday.
American Eagle Day is an observance, which means that businesses, stores, and government offices are open.
On this day, conservation and educational organizations hold public outreach programs such as lectures, workshops, and informational sessions to raise awareness about the importance of preserving and protecting bald eagles and other wildlife.
The holiday is sometimes known as Bald Eagle Day or National Eagle Day.