Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Bald Eagle Snack Food Mosaic - The Eagle and the Great Seal of the United States

In preparation for Independence Day, we made a fun 4th of July snack using crackers and pretzels.  This eagle cracker mosaic is a relatively healthy treat to take to an 4th of July party.

If you'd like to try making one for the upcoming holiday, here are the four types of crackers/pretzels we used in our creation:
White Cheddar Cheez-It Crackers
Snyder's of Hanover Cheddar Cheese Sandwiches Pretzels
Pepperidge Farm Goldfish Crackers
Generic brand pretzel sticks

Since 1782 the bald eagle has been a national symbol of the United States.  On the front of the Great Seal, the eagle is shown clutching an olive branch in the right talon and a bundle of thirteen arrows in the left talon. This unique design represents the power of peace and war.

I took some time today to discuss the symbolism of the eagle with my kids, in particular, the eagle's depiction on the Great Seal. We used the back of a U.S. one-dollar bill for reference. Obviously much thought and planning went into the design of this U.S. seal and the process took six years. Many variations were submitted to Congress, and the eagle was not the focal part of the originally submitted design for the seal but was ultimately prominently featured in Charles Thomson's design in 1782.

The eagle, "on the wing and rising," is a symbol of freedom and liberty. The number "13" appears to be a theme throughout the seal, the number representing the thirteen colonies that declared independence from the British Empire and later becoming the first states in the United States of America. Here's one surprising fact -- Did you know that there are thirteen letters in the motto, "E pluribus unum," which means Out of Many, One? [View this website for further information: Symbols of U.S. Government: The Great Seal of the United States]

Obverse Side of the Great Seal - "The most prominent feature is the American bald eagle supporting the shield, or escutcheon, which is composed of 13 red and white stripes, representing the original States, and a blue top which unites the shield and represents Congress. The motto, E Pluribus Unum (Out of many, one), alludes to this union. The olive branch and 13 arrows denote the power of peace and war, which is exclusively vested in Congress. The constellation of stars denotes a new State taking its place and rank among other sovereign powers." -- The Great Seal of the United States, United States Department of State, Publication No. 10411, 1996

I found an image for the kids to color that shows the front of the Great Seal on page 7 in the Symbols of the U.S. Government pdf booklet.

Relating to eagles and the U.S., one famous bald eagle in American history is Old Abe, the mascot of the 8th Regiment of Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry during the Civil War.  The mighty eagle accompanied the regiment during various battles from 1861-1864 and was later kept at the Wisconsin State Capitol until his death in 1881.

Related Links:
NIE - Symbols of Patriotism
Enchanted Learning - The Great Seal of the U.S.A.
Eagle/Great Seal Lesson Plan - "Homeschool" is Not a Typo
National Symbols: The Great Seal

Have a safe and happy 4th of July!