The following piece was originally written in 1955, updated in 1976, and republished in our local newspaper today. It encompasses so many different moods of the American spirit and people: our free-spirited nature, optimism, determination, daring, and dedication to pursuing our highest ideals as one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice.
There may be difficulties ahead of us as a nation on any number of fronts, and yet I still remain so blessed be a part of the American Experience and enjoy the freedoms our forefathers fought so hard to obtain and preserve. Without a doubt, I would proudly stand up to be counted among her children, and would gladly defend her still today. God Bless America!
“I Am the Nation”
By Otto Whittaker
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 many things and many people I am the nation.
I am more than 250 million living souls – and the ghost of millions who have lived 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 and Grant and Abe Lincoln.
I remember the Alamo, the Maine, and Pearl Harbor. When freedom called, I answered and stayed until it was over, over there. I left my heroic dead in Flanders Field, on the rock of Corregidor, on the bleak slopes of Korea, and in the steaming jungle of Vietnam.
I am the Brooklyn Bridge, the wheat lands of Kansas, and the granite hills of Vermont. I am the coalfields of the Virginias and Pennsylvania, the, the fertile lands of the West, the Golden Gate and the Grand Canyon. I am Independence Hall, the Monitor and the Merrimac.
I am big. I sprawl from the Atlantic to the Pacific – my arms reach out to embrace Alaska and Hawaii. I am more than five 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 bread loaf under his arm. You can see Betsy Ross with her needle. You can see the lights of Christmas and hear the strains of “Auld Lang Syne” as the calendar turns.
I am Babe Ruth and the World Series. I am more than 110,000 schools and colleges and more than 330,000 churches where my people worship God as they think best. I am a ballot dropped into a box, the roar of a crowd in a stadium, and the voice of a choir in a cathedral. I am the editorial in a newspaper and a letter to a Congressman.
I am Eli Whitney and Stephen Foster. I am 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 that I am. I was conceived in freedom and, God willing, in freedom I will spend the rest of my days. May I possess always 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.