The Fourth of July has come and gone. I hope we all took a moment to reflect on what Independence Day means.

Our Independence Day is celebrated in so many imaginative ways. Flags flying, fireworks bursting in air, parades, and lots of family gatherings remind everyone we are free. Our national emblem, the eagle can be seen on clothing, cards, floats, and flags. The eagle was chosen, because it is said that during one of the first battles of the Revolution the noise of the battle awoke sleeping eagles who then flew from their nests and circled the fighting men.

The men concluded the eagles were shrieking for freedom and the eagle came to represent the newly independent country. As an emblem of all that is strong, majestic and has a long life, the eagle was put on the official seal. People in those days also believed eagles only existed on this continent, making it not only majestic but unique.

There were challenges to this choice, protesting the loudest was Benjamin Franklin who said the bird is of bad moral character, does not get his living honestly and is more show off than courageous. He was pushing for the turkey. In spite of these objections, the bird landed on the backs of gold coins, the silver dollar, the half dollar, the quarter, paper money, stamps and the presidential seal.

The eagle has served us well, representing freedom and dignity. Some countries have lions like, Belgium and Norway, some have tigers or elephants. Those countries wanted a show of strength, or fierceness. Canada has a gentle and dignified maple leaf symbolizing unity, tolerance and peace. Ireland has its shamrock. I think it’s because they need all the luck they can get and it looks good on the Aer Lingus fleet of planes.

Australia has the well-recognized kangaroo. It represents moving forward and adapting to new situations. Some countries have a coat of arms and some have abstract designs. History, story, pride and dignity come with each.

And then there is Scotland, whose symbol of independence is a unicorn. Although back in the twelfth century the mythical creature was more dramatic and in the sixteenth century it held its own beside the English Lion, today is it adored by little girls and capitalized on by toy makers and clothing manufacturers around the world.

It is supposed to reflect masculinity, power, and chivalry, but somehow the mythological Celtic animal seems more about innocence and purity. Unicorns are steeped in mythology. The Scots love legendary creatures so it makes good sense to chose something not unlike the Lock Ness Monster.

Scotland lost another bid for independence in 2014. They keep trying and momentum seems to be building again. If they are serious, they might want to consider a new symbol, one less likely to be associated with unattainable Brigadoon or Shangri La.

Who can take anyone seriously, when they have the thistle for their national flower? And not to make fun of their culinary offerings, but haggis and shortbread with scotch just doesn’t wet my whistle. And the cock-a-leekie soup seems just silly. In fact, the British Library came across a fourteenth century cookbook that included how to cook a unicorn. After recipes for tripe and codswallow comes the beginning which reads, “Taketh one unicorne…” Although perhaps gamey, it probably tastes like chicken.

Now that I think of it, symbols and emblems should indeed represent the culture and overall feeling of the country. After all, the men do get to go around with those sexy skirts and wear plaid. And who doesn’t like knee socks? In spite of representing masculinity, unicorns also signify the wild and the untamed and wait for it, feminine energy and magic. What a wonderful combination.

Unicorns are full of fantasy and big dreams of a better tomorrow. Maybe those Scots know what they are doing.

Freedom and Independence are worth fighting for no matter what the symbol or emblem accompanying it. Eagles are wonderful, but butterflies are the ultimate symbol of freedom and courage and acceptance of change, and rainbows promise peace. Who would even consider a turkey with all of that to choose from?

Kay Stellpflug is an educator and trainer in interpersonal and professional communications. She works and lives in Beaver Dam and can be reached at kaystellpflug@gmail.com.

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