The Eagle Doesn’t Mean a Thing
There are so many things that one accepts as a matter of course, that it is not all surprising that few, even in the fire department service, have been curious to know why there are eagles mounted on the front of firemen’s helmets. A few believe that it is significant of the onward-to-victory attitude or a Symbol of some lofty inspiration. But that is not so.
Long, long ago, to be exact somewheres around 1825, a sculptor was commissioned to design a commemorative figure of a volunteer fireman. It stands today in the graveyard of Trinity Church. The hero is depicted issuing from the flames with a babe resting on one arm while the other he holds a trumpet. By some flight of fancy, the sculptor placed an eagle on the front of the firemen’s helmet. At that time the helmets were tree from any ornaments of this kind.
The little ornament met with popular favor, and since every fire company in those days designed its own uniforms, it came into general use. It has remained on firemen’s helmets ever since, even though it is always getting dented, bent, and knocked off, and requires frequent attention to keep the eagle shining in its glory.