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Outdoors with Coggin Heeringa: The egg of independence

The hatching eagle symbolizes independence. But anyone who has followed an eagle nest cam knows that newly hatched bald eagles are anything but independent.

"1776" is an award-winning Broadway musical and also a film with music and lyrics by Sherman Edwards and a book by Peter Stone. Historians tell us that the plot is not exactly accurate—but how could it be?

The clandestine deliberations leading up to the signing of the Declaration of Independence were done behind closed doors (and closed windows) and, presumably, the delegates did not burst into song in the days before the Fourth of July. Or was it the Second of July? The conflicts, issues and need for compromise facing the Second Continental Congress were very real.

But the song “The Egg”—a conversation between Adams, Jefferson and Franklin—is surely fiction and also biologically incorrect. The lyrics explain “though the shell may belong to Great Britain / the Eagle inside belongs to us.” The hatching eagle symbolizes independence.

Anyone who has followed an eagle nest cam knows that newly hatched bald eagles are anything but independent. The fuzzy and helpless nestlings are totally dependent on both parents.

In fact, eaglets spend 10-13 weeks in the nest before their first flight and even after that, the doting parent birds feed them as they learn to fly and hunt for themselves.

The bald eagle did become the symbol of the infant nation, and the Declaration of Independence united the 13 colonies.

The signers risked everything they had, but presented to the world the self-evident truths “that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness... that to secure these rights, governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”

Have a safe and Happy Independence Day.

"Outdoors with Coggin Heeringa" can be heard every Wednesday on Classical IPR.