5 Patriotic Animals We’re Honoring This Independence Day
by Paige Hymson
Published on June 18, 2013
You may not realize it, but patriotic animals appear often in our everyday lives — on the coins we use and the stamps we send our mail with. These animals have a more symbolic meaning to our country than we probably think about during the rest of the year, so this holiday is a great time to honor them.
Despite the colonial disagreement over whether the bald eagle or the turkey should be America's national symbol, and the rivalry between voters represented by the donkey or the elephant, we're featuring the species that hold a special place in the history of our country.
Our national bird, the bald eagle, is the only eagle unique to North America. Widely regarded as the symbol of the United States, the bald eagle appears on coins, paper currency, passports and more. It was adopted as the official emblem of the United States in 1782 because of its strength, power and bravery.
At Thanksgiving, many American families join together to chow down on roasted turkey. But if Benjamin Franklin would have had his way, the gobbling turkey would be the national symbol of the United States. "A much more respectable bird and a true native of America," Franklin called it. The wild turkey was discovered by early immigrants and remains a symbol of our nation today.
The Democratic donkey first appeared during the 1828 presidential campaign — when Andrew Jackson's opponents referred to him as a certain colloquialism for donkey. Yet it wasn't until political cartoonist Thomas Nast popularized the donkey in 1874 that people began to associate the animal with the Democratic Party.
Elephants aren't only recognized for their impressively large ears and long trunks. Opposite the donkey, the elephant has come to represent the Republican Party in American politics. See more facts about the two political animals here.
Not only is the bison the nation's heaviest land animal, but it is also largely integrated into American culture. This oversized mammal is the official animal for three states, appears on two state flags and is the symbol for the Department of the Interior. Some Americans even think the buffalo represents the country so well that they want it to be recognized as our national mammal.