Thanksgiving is a time for reflection. Warm memories, overstuffed afternoons and family. Yet rising from this cornucopia of good feelings, like a rubber chicken from a shopping cart full of cut-up fryers, is that runner-up for national bird ... the turkey.
Despite its cinderblock-like intelligence, gurgling vocals and dangling snood, there is nothing absurd about the turkey being nominated as our national bird. After all, a group of entomologists has tried to convince Congress to name a national insect. Their suggestion was the monarch butterfly.
I have always assumed that the turkey was passed over for the bald eagle for obvious reasons; beauty, grace, majesty, strength and inspiration. But after watching Congress consider the monarch butterfly, I realized how it is simply a matter of which special-interest group presents the most convincing case.
There was considerable rancor stirred amongst the feminist groups when they pressed their case for a national insect to represent them. They were divided between the ladybug and the queen bee.
Organized religion sprang forth to submit their nominees. The Catholics liked the idea of a preying mantis on the 50-cent piece. The Methodists suggested the water skipper, while the Baptists chose the lobster.
The legal profession marshaled its considerable influence behind the scorpion. Civil service employees thought the humble, diligent ant would be a good choice. Roto Rooter placed the tumblebug into consideration.
Suggestions for the national insect came pouring in from special-interest groups: pork producers (the sow bug), carpenters (termites), insomniacs (bed bug), librarians (book lice), Nike (millipede), Republicans (the Sherman tank), Adams County bowling team (bowl weevils) ... uncles wanted aunts, the A’s wanted the B’s, Volkswagen wanted the beetles, honky-tonkers wanted night crawlers, and the Texans thought the oil derrick would make a nice national insect.
So I can imagine if there is this much interest in a national insect, the competition must have been double tough for the national bird.
If Ducks Unlimited, the Pelican Farm News, the Kansas Jayhawkers or Chicken of the Sea had been able to nominate candidates for the national bird, our coins might have looked a lot different.
However, if the turkey growers are still bent on installing the turkey as a symbol of something uniquely American ... they’d have to go to Washington D.C. anyway ... PD