I am the eagle. Since the beginning of time, man has used me as a symbol of royalty, power, victory, authority, and valor. My strength and courage have inspired men through the ages.
Ancient man looked upon me as an inveterate enemy of serpents. They saw the battle between the light and darkness—sun and clouds—as battles between the eagle and a serpent.
The ancient Assyrians associated me with Ashur, the great sun god. I was held in awe and worshipped for my majestic beauty. In Assyrian myths, I was a symbol of storms and lightning, and the god who carried souls to Hades. In India and Babylon I was the symbol of fire, of wind and storms, and the bringer of immortality.
During the golden age of Greece, I was a symbol of victory and supreme spiritual energy. I was the sacred bird of Zeus, the ruler of all gods. The Greeks represented me with wings out-stretched holding a serpent in my claws. Thus, I again represented the triumph of good over evil. In Rome, I was the symbol of Jupiter, the supreme god.
To the Romans I represented victory. As Roman legions conquered the world, they marched under the standard of the eagle. I became the symbol of the Roman Empire and the personal emblem of the Caesars.
In the Middle Ages, I became the symbol of Germany and the nobility. And, as falconry flourished as a sport in Europe, only kings were allowed to hunt with an eagle.
The rise of Christianity brought me still more honor. To the early Christians, the noble eagle became a symbol of the ascension of Jesus Christ and I am best known as the symbol of St. John the Evangelist.
Ancient Aztec tribes living in what is now Mexico first sighted me capturing a rattlesnake. They took this as a sign to settle at that place which is now Mexico City. Today that image is shown is on the Great Seal of the modern nation of Mexico and on the nation's flag. In Mexico, I did not just witness history in the making, I made history.
My courage, strength, and majesty became and inspiration to the founders of a new nation and on June 20, 1782, I was chosen to symbolize a great new country, the United States of America. I have a prominent place in America, as in ancient Rome, as a symbol of power and authority, and my likeness is found on the great seal of the President.
From the god of the Assyrians to the symbol of the Caesars to the emblem of this country, it was thus fitting that the eagle should have a part in the most momentous achievement of man: the Apollo 11 crew chose Eagle as the name for the lunar module that placed the first man on the moon.
Throughout history, I have been the symbol of man's best, and in 1911, following traditions as old as man himself, the Boy Scouts of America chose me to symbolize the very highest in personal achievement.
Tonight you place my likeness upon your breast and like those who have come to this moment before you, you join the ranks of the Eagle. You represent Scouting's best. Tonight, Christopher, I challenge you; carry my spirit with you always and in everything you do; rise to life's difficult moments with the strength and courage of the Eagle—soar with me always.