The Eagle Has Landed… Sort Of

Another of my pet peeves is when you’re driving, NOT on your cellphone, texting, or otherwise distracted, and an animal runs out in front of you.  The other day, I was driving on a rural highway, going about 55 MPH.  There were a couple of cars in front of me but no one behind me.  I was minding my own business, when out of the blue, two crows flew up out of the tall grass to my right and took off across the street right in front of me.  Needless to say, one of them swooped down in front of me, and I hit it.  I was mortified!  It was completely unavoidable on my part, though the crow could’ve either waited until I passed, or he could have flown higher.  At any rate, I felt horrible and had nightmares for days!

This brings us to my Throwback Thursday story which also ties into tomorrow being Independence Day.  Kind of.  When I was a kid back in the 70s, the Bicentennial was a MAJOR deal all over the country. There was even a bicentennial quarter issued in 1976.  There were parades all over the nation for the Fourth of July, and just about everyone had at least one bald eagle sculpture in their home.

The bald eagle, of course, is our national emblem.  And in the 70s, it was also an endangered species.  Needless to say, bald eagles were a HUGE deal back then.  They were in the news, it was nearly unheard of to ever see one, and it was a felony to put one in harm’s way.

So in the late 70s, when I was eight or nine, one of my stepdads picked me up so I could go spend a few days with my brother.  My brother and I were in the backseat as we rode along a rural highway.  Back then, it was also common for cars to either not have seatbelts or for people to not wear them even if they did.  As we drove along, my stepdad pointed out the front window and said, “Look!  A bald eagle!”

My brother and I both stood up and squeezed in between the front seats then watched out the front windshield.  The eagle was magnificent!  It was so beautiful as it glided along on its outstretched wings.  It flew in circles and loops, and my stepdad, my stepmom, my brother, and I were in awe as the brilliance of our nation’s emblem was showcased.  Everything my brother and I had ever only seen on television shows or in books was alive right before our eyes.  I’ll never forget the brightness of its yellow talons and beak, the silky, snow white feathers on his head, and its beautiful, deep chocolate brown, streamlined body as it flew.  It was like a private nature show being broadcast just for us.

As my brother and I stood, frozen with wonderment as we admired the bird’s grandeur, our mouths were open, and our hearts thumped loudly.  “Wow!  Look at that!” we said in unison as if it were rehearsed.

The eagle did a couple of loops, and it was as if it were performing just for us.  But just when we thought our performance was nearly over, there was a surprise ending.  The eagle apparently spotted our car.  “Look, here it comes!” my stepdad said as he pointed.

“It’s coming!” my stepmom shrieked.

My brother and I were speechless as we stood inches from the “screen” and watched our private documentary turn into a real life 3-D Alfred Hitchcock nightmare!

Both my brother and I screamed, yet we were too paralyzed to move.  The bald eagle headed straight for us… and flew right into the windshield of our car!  The windshield cracked, blood and feathers smeared on the glass, and our endangered national emblem was dead!

(And, yes, in case you’re wondering, this story is 100% true.)

So, tell me… Were you expecting THAT ending?  Do you remember the Bicentennial?  What special thing did your town do for July 4, 1976?  Do you have any big plans for this weekend?