E pluribus whatever

As you can see in the picture below, workers are putting the final touches on the auditorium for tonight’s final presidential debate.

That includes putting up the symbol of the country that is wrong.


What’s the problem here?

The symbol of the United States — an eagle holding arrows in one talon and an olive branch in the other — wasn’t just whipped up without thought.

The actual symbol has the olive branch in the right talon and the arrows in the left.

Says the website greatseal.com:

In heraldry, the symbol in a figure’s right hand is more significant than the one in its left hand. All dies of the Great Seal have shown the eagle facing the olive branch on its right side – further emphasizing the power of peace.

It wasn’t always this way — at least on the presidential seal. Until the Truman administration, the eagle faced the arrows. Truman signed an executive order legally specifying that the eagle face the olive branch to the right, the “direction of honor.” The suggestion was that the country favored peace over war.

Of course, the ribbon is also wrong. The actual seal says “E pluribus unum,” — from many, one, a pretty outdated motto these days.