An even longer version of this may be found on the next page. I am the eagle. Since the beginning of time, man has used me and my brothers as a symbol of royalty, power, victory and valor. My strength and courage has inspired men through the ages.
Ancient man looked upon me as an inveterate enemy of serpents. They saw battle between the sun and clouds as battles between an eagle and a serpent.
The ancient Assyrians associated me with Ashur, the great sun god. I was awed and worshipped for my majestic beauty. In the Assyrian myths, I was a symbol of storms and lightning and the god who carried souls to Hades.
In India and Babylon I was the symbol of fire, of wind and storms, and the bringer of immortality.
In the golden age of Greece, I was a symbol of victory and supreme spiritual energy. I was the sacred bird of Zeus, the ruler of all gods. The Greeks represented me with wings outstretched holding a serpent in my claws. Thus I represented the triumph of good over evil.
In Rome, I was the symbol of Jupiter, the supreme god. The Romans saw me as a symbol of victory. As the Roman legions conquered the world, they marched under the standard of the eagle, with outstretched wings. The silver eagle was the symbol of the republic and the Roman Empire used the golden eagle as its symbol. I became the personal emblem of the Caesars, representing supreme authority.
In the Middle Ages, I became the symbol of Germany. And, as falconry flourished in Europe, only kings were allowed to hunt with an eagle.
The rise of Christianity brought me still more honor. To the early Christians, the eagle was the symbol of ascension. This was due to the strong flight of the eagle with its gaze fixed on the sun. In early icons I was known as the symbol of Saint John, the Evangelist.
In the 19th century, French troops under Napoleon conquered Europe under the symbol of the eagle. Many French soldiers gave their lives to protect the golden eagle which supported the French flag on the battleground.
On June 20, 1782, I became the symbol of a new country. Because of my courage and beauty, I was chosen to symbolize the new United States of America. The eagle became a prominent feature of the seal of state of the new republic.
From this early beginning, I have been used in many ways to symbolize the ideals of this country. Several states have the eagle on their state flags. You can find me on the coins of America from the beginning to present day.
I have a prominent place in America, as in ancient Rome, as a symbol of power and authority. The emblems of the President, Vice President, several members of the President's cabinet and most branches of the armed forces center on the eagle.
From the god of the Assyrians, to the symbol of the Caesars, to the emblem of this country, it was thus fitting that the eagle have a part in the most momentous achievement of man. The Apollo XI crew chose "Eagle" as the name for the lunar module that was to make history. And the words of Eagle Scout Neil Armstrong, "... Houston, Tranquillity Base here, the EAGLE has landed.", and man was on the moon.
In 1911, following tradition as old as man himself, the Boy Scouts of America chose the eagle to symbolize the very highest in achievement. Through all of history, I have been the symbol of man's best, now the eagle is the symbol of Scouting's best. I am the Eagle!