The U.S. Senate unanimously passed a resolution late last night authored by U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and cosponsored by U.S. Senator Robert C. Byrd (D-W. Va.) to designate June 20th as "American Eagle Day."
"American Eagle Day gives us an opportunity to commemorate our national symbol, the bald eagle, and to reflect on all the different things that make America such a great place," Alexander said. "I'm especially proud as a Tennessean that the American Eagle Foundation, in Pigeon Forge, has played such a leading role in preserving this magnificent bird."
"I applaud Senator Alexander's continued commitment to bringing to all our attention the plight of the American Bald Eagle and its remarkable recovery from the endangered species list," said Byrd. "And because Americans are committed to protecting and defending our precious national emblem, the Bald Eagle remains the unchallenged master of the skies and a symbol of our freedom."
In addition to designating June 20th as American Eagle Day and celebrating "the recovery and restoration of the American bald eagle, the national symbol of the United States," the Alexander-Byrd resolution (S. Res. 542) encourages educational entities, businesses, conservation groups, government agencies and others to collaborate on information about bald eagles for use in schools.
The measure also highlights the U.S. Mint's Bald Eagle Commemorative Coin Program, which has raised approximately $7.8 million for the American Eagle Foundation, located in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, to support efforts to protect the bald eagle. The eagle coin program was created by legislation introduced in the Senate by Alexander -- the American Bald Eagle Recovery and National Emblem Commemorative Coin Act -- which was signed into law in December 2004. That legislation was cosponsored by 71 senators, including Sen. Byrd.
The dramatic recovery of the bald eagle population is an endangered species success story and inspirational example for other wildlife conservation efforts around the world. In 1963, the number of nesting pairs of bald eagles in the lower 48 States had dropped to about 417. By 2007, that number had increased to approximately 10,000 nesting pairs, and increase of approximately 2,500 percent from 40 years ago. Because of this success, the U.S. Department of the Interior officially delisted the bald eagle from both the "endangered" and "threatened" species lists under the Endangered Species Act on June 28, 2007.
In addition to Senator Byrd, the bipartisan resolution has eight other cosponsors in the Senate: Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Judd Gregg (R-N.H.), Mary Landrieu (D-La.), Sam Brownback (R-Kans.), and Evan Bayh (D-Ind.).
More information regarding the American Eagle Foundation is available at www.eagles.org.