Someone shot a bald eagle.
It happened on the West Penn Trail in Derry Township on Friday. Someone took a gun and shot our national symbol in the face. Its famous white cap of feathers was soaked in blood and a piece of its beak was just gone.
On Monday, state Game Warden Bill Brehun reported the eagle had to be euthanized because of skull injuries.
The eagle would be a precious and majestic creature on its own. It is powerful and strong. It is beautiful and fierce. It is independent and wild and free.
All of those things are why it is a fitting symbol of America.
All of those things are why it is a gut-wrenching blow to hear someone has taken that symbol and desecrated it.
Maybe it is more of a blow now than it ever has been.
Eagles have been somewhat of a uniting factor. We can rip each other to shreds over guns and taxes, immigration and investigations, kneeling or standing. Everything from sneakers to chicken sandwiches becomes a tug-of-war between red and blue.
But the gleaming head of the bald eagle was the safe white space everyone respected. It is our demilitarized zone. The leftiest lefts and rightiest rights can agree on it.
Want proof? You don’t have to look further than your phone or your computer.
Eagle cams like the one in the Hays neighborhood of Pittsburgh are digital cameras pointed at eagle nests. They are positioned a safe distance away so as not to disturb the eagles, their nests or their eggs. That’s important as the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act of 1940 makes it illegal to “pursue, shoot, shoot at, poison, wound, kill, capture, trap, collect, molest or disturb” the national bird.
All over the country, cameras are being pointed at eagle nests. Watching the fierce predators as caring parents has become a popular pastime online. There is even one at the National Arboretum in Washington with a bald eagle couple named Mr. President and The First Lady.
Eagles are something we can all appreciate without party or ideology getting in the way, maybe because there is something there we want to emulate.
Even if the law didn’t protect them, the people should.