A 7.5 year-old female American Bald Eagle now resides at the Staten Island Zoo, a fact that will surely be shared over the crisp cracking of Keystone Light cans next to a grill tomorrow afternoon. According to the Staten Island Advance, the eagle, who we'll call "Freedom McSoverignty," is missing its left wing after it ran into a transformer. By God this bird is like America in 2012: wounded, but proud. Also adding to the eagle's symbolic identity, Freedom has two chicks who are buried in college debt, and a nest with an underwater mortgage. And there is absolutely nothing ironic about a symbol of Freedom being held in a cage, OK?
The bald eagle was named the national bird of the United States in 1782. And what your uncle Randy told you after three Zimas was right: Ben Franklin supported making the wild turkey the national bird instead, and called the eagle a "bird of bad moral character." But that was coming from a guy who hung out with French prostitutes. Eagles can live up to 30 years in the wild and 50 years in captivity.
Lest you doubt that the bald eagle is a bad motherfucker, a bald eagle named Old Abe was a soldier in the 8th Wisconsin Company C during the Civil War. According to various accounts Abe would fly along the skirmish lines "screaming and spreading her wings at the enemy." Confederates called her "Yankee Buzzard" and attempted to shoot her, but never did. She died of smoke inhalation in a fire in 1881, and then her mounted corpse was destroyed in another fire in 1904, because you're not really hard unless it takes two fires to destroy you.