"Where at least I know I'm free"
I was born on July 4, 1776, and the Declaration of Independence is my birth certificate. The bloodlines of the world run in my veins, because I offered freedom to the oppressed. I am the nation!
I am 390 million living souls and the ghosts of those who have lived and fought and died for me.
I am Nathan Hale and Paul Revere. I stood at Lexington and fired the shot heard around the world.
I am Washington, Jefferson, and Patrick Henry.
I am John Paul Jones, the Green Mountain Boys and Davy Crockett.
I am Lee, Grant, Abe Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, Pershing, Eisenhower, MacArthur, Patton, and Colin Powell.
I remember the Alamo, the Maine, Pearl Harbor and September 11, 2001. When freedom called, I answered and stayed until it was over, over there. I left my heroic dead in Flanders Fields, the rock of Corregidor, on the bleak slopes of Korea, in the steaming jungle of Vietnam and the desert sands of Kuwait.
I am the Statue of Liberty, the wheat fields of Kansas, the granite hills of Vermont, and Tennessee the Volunteer State.
I am the coalfields of the Virginias and Pennsylvania, the fertile lands of the west, the Golden Gate, Brooklyn Bridge and the Grand Canyon.
I am Independence Hall, the Monitor, the Merrimac and the Challenger.
I am the Liberty Bell that first rang for freedom.
I am big. I sprawl from the Atlantic to the Pacific - three million square miles of land throbbing with industry.
I am two million farms.
I am forest, field, mountain and desert.
I am quiet villages and cities that never sleep.
You can look at me and see Ben Franklin walking down the streets of Philadelphia with his breadloaf under his arm. You can see the lights of Christmas and hear the strains of "Auld Land Syne" as the calendar turns.
I am Babe Ruth and the World Series.
I am more than 170,000 schools and colleges and more than 300,000 churches where my people worship God as they choose.
I am a ballot dropped into a box, the roar of a crowd in a stadium, the voice of a choir in a cathedral.
I am an editorial in a newspaper and a letter to Congress.
I am John Glenn and Neil Armstrong and their fellow astronauts who whirl above my head.
I am Eli Whitney and Stephen Foster, Tom Edison, Albert Einstein and Billy Graham.
I am Horace Greeley, Will Rogers and the Wright brothers.
I am George Washington Carver, Jonas Salk and Martin Luther King Jr.
I am Longfellow, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Walt Whitman and Thomas Paine.
Yes, I am the nation and these are the things I am.
I was conceived in freedom and God willing, in freedom I shall spend the rest of my days.
May I always possess the integrity, the courage and the strength to keep myself unshackled, to remain a citadel of freedom and a beacon of hope to the world.
By Otto Whitaker, Jr. Revised by M.T. Foresthill and D. Mitchell Jones