KODIAK, ALASKA – The majestic bald eagle, the fish-eating bird native to Alaska, Canada, the contiguous United States, and northern Mexico and the symbol of America since 1782, announced its retirement on Wednesday.
“I gotta tell ya, I had a good run,” the raptor commented from its nest of sticks on a rock promontory overlooking the North Pacific. “But I’m getting too old for this shit. I’ve been the national bird and the national animal of the United States of America for the last 230 years. I think it’s time to bow out gracefully. I just want to spend my declining years sitting on this godforsaken rock and watching the frigid tides roll in.”
When pressed for further comment, the eagle became pensive.
“I mean, I think this is the right time,” it said. “I was a useful emblem back in the early days, when half of all Americans died in bear attacks and Europe was ready to carve us into itty-bitty pieces. I stood for something great: a majestic, overarching idea, the unquenchable flames of adventure, independence, self-determination, free enterprise, courage and democracy. I was a beacon of hope, the manifestation of everything worthy and good about the American experiment—and an adamantine incarnation of the indomitable will and can-do spirit of the American people.”
“Nowadays I just sit around, eat CFC-laced fish, lay thin-shelled eggs and watch daytime TV,” the eagle concluded.
Reaction to the eagle’s shocking announcement has been mixed.
“The bald eagle has paid his dues,” said Senator Al Franken of Minnesota. “He’s served his country long and well, and if he’d like to put himself out to pasture now, that’s his prerogative. There’s a whole new generation of animals ready to take up the slack. I’d like to take this opportunity to submit the honey badger for consideration.”
“This is nothing less than a dereliction of duty,” stated Senator John McCain of Arizona. “That eagle was appointed in 1782 to serve this nation as its herald and national symbol. He just can’t up and decide to quit whenever he wants. No doubt he expects a pension and Secret Service protection for the rest of his natural life, too. That doesn’t cut ice with me.”
According to a Rasmussen poll, the average American is conflicted about the eagle’s decision to forsake the mantle of official bird of the United States.
“I mean, I support him, I really do,” said Anthony Hubbard of Glendive, Montana. “Goodness knows he deserves a break. But I don’t know if retiring is the right thing to do. Couldn’t he just take a hiatus? You know, preen himself for a few weeks, gnaw on a few dead fish and screech a bit, then come back to the table with his game face on?”
“This country just won’t be the same without the bald eagle,” Ellie Knox of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, stated. “I mean, who’s going to take over for him if he leaves? The osprey? It’s got lovely plumage, yes, but could it really bear the enormous responsibility of representing the most militarily and economically powerful nation on Earth?”
Sources close to the bald eagle revealed telling information related to the great bird’s decision.
“I saw this coming, honestly,” said the grizzly bear. “He’s been strung out for a long time now. He’s been out on the road too much, doing too many promos and commercials, too much modeling and photography work. He’s not getting enough salmon, either. It’s affecting his health. I’m not surprised he’s ready to retire.”
“The poor guy’s at the end of his rope,” reported the sea otter. “He’s been talking about getting out of the game for decades now. I honestly thought he was done in 1945. He had to do so many bond drives and propaganda movies that he was a nervous wreck by V-J Day. Then he jumped straight from that into the Cold War, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, Desert Storm, Operation Iraqi Freedom, and the war in Afghanistan. All the paintings he’s had to pose for and all the heroic, rousing short films he’s starred in…the dude’s just wiped.”
The eagle confirmed that he had reached a level of disillusionment and exhaustion he had never before experienced.
“I’m tired, yes,” he said, adjusting his pinfeathers and gazing over the iron-grey sea with a purposeful, reverent, patriotic stare. “I’ve never been more exhausted. But it’s more than that. I just don’t see the point in carrying on anymore. Insurgents everywhere, and even U.S. citizens, are burning the American flag at will. The Westboro Baptist Church spreads its message of hate and bigotry daily. The economy is in the toilet. Defense spending is being slashed. Healthcare reform is off to a shaky start. The average American is full of despair and bad feeling. Children are burping up in Lady Liberty’s crown, for Pete’s sake. The American mind has never been more ill at ease. What’s the point in carrying on, honestly?”
Added the eagle: “I just don’t think I can represent a country that pays more respect to reality TV stars than to doctors and scientists.”
When asked to name a replacement, the feathery mascot listed several controversial candidates.
“Oh hell,” it said. “Let the turkey take over. He’s been after the top spot for ages. Or what about the weasel? He’ll do. He’s more evolutionarily successful than me anyway. The pig wouldn’t be a bad choice, either—he’s got better business sense.”
“Whatever you do, though,” the bird of prey added, grimacing, “don’t let the damn donkeys or elephants take over.”