Independence Day Index

Fourth of July Special, 2021

I CELEBRATE myself, and sing myself,
And what I assume you shall assume,
For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you...

(Excerpted from Song of Myself, Walt Whitman, 1881)

Fourth of July, was the date that Walt Whitman’s anthology, Leaves of Grass , was published for the first time. The year was 1855. This was a book with poetry that embraced all humanity. The writing did not look for philosophical labels but reached out to all mankind touching the hearts of millions beyond the poet’s own lifetime, rising above races, rituals, politics, economics and hatred.

On that same date, in the century preceding the publication of this book — on 4th July, 1776 — thirteen colonies that had been established by immigrants in the continent of North America signed Thomas Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence, freeing themselves from the British yoke after they populated the landmass that had been occupied by American Indians for many thousands of years. The date continues to be celebrated as the American Independence Day with much fanfare. Borderless Journal presents to you writing that celebrates the occasion. Perhaps when at leisure, some of us will pause to wonder if independence and democracy bring freedom to all concerned.


Colours of Life

We move on to the exquisite poetry of Jared Carter on the colours of life we can experience in America. Click here to read.

American Dreams

Michael R Burch with his powerful poetry not just reaffirms the history of the country but also brings in the legendary Mohammed Ali to seek the voice of sanity and humanism. Click here to read.


Summer Studio

Jared Carter writes of a childhood in the mid-twentieth century America. Click here to read.

The Story of a Bald Eagle & a Turkey

A photo-essay by Penny and Michael B Wilkes explores the history of how the bald eagle soared to be the emblematic bird of America, instead of the turkey. Click here to read

An Immigrant’s Story

Candice Louisa Daquin’s ruminations tells us what it means to be an American immigrant in today’s world and in the land that prospered under immigrants. Click here to read.

Essay Independence Day

The Story of a Bald Eagle & a Turkey

Text by Penny & photographs by Michael B. Wilkes

Photography by Michael B. Wilkes, FAIA

Independence Day, celebrated on July 4, commemorates the Declaration of Independence of the United States of America. In 1774, on June 11, the first Continental Congress (John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, Robert R. Livingston, and Roger Sherman) worked on the draft of the Declaration of Independence.

The group designated Thomas Jefferson to write the text because of his superior writing skills and what they called his, “felicity of expression.”

The document declared that the thirteen American colonies would unite as free and independent states. They signed it into action on July 2 in 1776 and broke away from the British government under King George.

Now we celebrate Independence Day on July 4.

Photography by Michael B. Wilkes, FAIA

The Continental Congress gave Benjamin Franklin, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson the job of designing an official seal for America. The idea for the bald eagle proposed in 1782, received acceptance. It included an olive branch with arrows in the talons to symbolize war and peace.

Photography by Michael B. Wilkes, FAIA

When Benjamin Franklin saw the eagle on the Cincinnati medals, he felt it looked like a turkey. He said, “The turk’y is in comparison a much more respectable bird. Though a little vain and silly. The turkey remains a bird of courage who would attack any British grenadier who should presume to invade the farm yard with a red coat on.”  Franklin wanted the turkey as the national bird.

Photography by Michael B. Wilkes, FAIA

Congress adopted the eagle design on June 20, 1782. The bald eagle appeared on official documents, currency, flags, public buildings, and other government-related items. Instead of a turkey, the bald eagle became an American icon.

Photography by Michael B. Wilkes, FAIA

In the late 1800’s, America was home to 100,000 nesting bald eagles, but the number of birds shrank because of habitat destruction and excessive hunting. In 1978 the bald eagle arrived on the endangered species list. Bills passed protecting the elegant bird. In 1995, the bald eagle population had recovered enough for the status of the bald eagle to be changed from, ‘endangered’ to ‘threatened’.

In 2007 the “threatened species” list no longer included the bald eagle.

Photography by Michael B. Wilkes, FAIA

The Bald Eagle soars as America’s national symbol with its fierce beauty and proud independence. It symbolizes the strength and freedom of  The United States of America.


Penny Wilkes,  served as a science editor, travel and nature writer and columnist. An award-winning writer and poet, she has published a collection of short stories, Seven Smooth Stones. Her published poetry collections include: Whispers from the Land, In Spite of War, and Flying Lessons. Her Blog on The Write Life features life skills, creativity, and writing: . My photoblog is @:

Michael B Wilkes is an award winning architect and  photographer who has collaborated on three books of poems with his wife Penny Wilkes. On two occasions he has received recognition among the 100 Most Influential peoples in San Diego by the San Diego Daily Transcript. Michael B Wilkes site: