Monday, July 27, 2020

I Am an American

In 1954 an Akron, Ohio, high school girl, Elizabeth Ellen Evans, wrote a prize-winning essay titled “I Speak for Democracy.”

I Am An American

I AM AN AMERICAN…listen to my words. Listen well, for my country is a strong country, and my message is a strong message.

I AM AN AMERICAN…and I speak for democracy and the dignity of the individual.

I AM AN AMERICAN…and my ancestors have given their blood for freedom:
On the green of Lexington and the snow at Valley Forge,
On the walls of Fort Sumter and the fields at Gettysburg,
On the waters of the Marne and in the shadows of the Argonne,
On the beachheads of Salerno and Normandy and the sands of Okinawa,
On the bare, black hills called Pork Chop and Old Baldy and Heartbreak Ridge, a million
and more of my countrymen have died for freedom.

I AM AN AMERICAN…and my country is their eternal monument.

I AM AN AMERICAN…and my ancestors have bequeathed to me:
The laughter of a small boy as he watches a circus clown’s antics,
The sweet, delicious coldness of the first bite of peppermint ice cream on the Fourth of July,
The little tenseness of a baseball crowd as the umpire calls, “Batter Up!”
The high school band’s rendition of the “Stars and Stripes Forever,” in the Memorial Day parade,
The clear, sharp ring of a school bell on a crisp fall morning, These and many others things they fought for and left me.

I AM AN AMERICAN…and the fruits of my thought and labor are mine to enjoy.

I AM AN AMERICAN…and my happy land is a land of many realms and mansions:
It is a land of Ohio corn and potatoes and pastures,
It is the realm of hundreds of acres of golden wheat stretching across flat miles of Kansas,
It is the land of precision assembly lines in Detroit, It is the realm of milling cattle in the stockyards of Chicago, It is the land of glowing skylines of Pittsburgh and Birmingham, of San Francisco and New York, And my churches and homes are the mansions of heaven.

I AM AN AMERICAN…and the love of God has made me free.

I AM AN AMERICAN…and in my churches and homes everyone worships God in his own way:
The young Jewish boy saying: “Hear, 0 Israel, the Lord is One, “
The Catholic girl praying: “Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is -with thee,”
The Protestant boy singing: “A Mighty Fortress is Our God, “Each one believing and praying as he must, And all joining in the universal prayer: “Our Father, who art in Heaven,” with the voice in the soul of every human being that cries out to be free,

I AM AN AMERICAN…and I believe that America has answered that voice.

I AM AN AMERICAN…and my country offers freedom and opportunity such as no land before
her has ever done:

Freedom to work, as mechanic or farmer, as merchant or truck driver,
Freedom to think, as chemist or lawyer, as doctor or priest,
Freedom to love, as child, as parent, sweetheart, husband, wife,
Freedom to speak, to pray, to read, to argue, to praise, to criticize,
Freedom to live one – or two – hundred million different lives.

I AM AN AMERICAN…and my heritage is of the land and of the spirit, of the heart and of the soul.

I AM AN AMERICAN…and these are my words. Show me a now a country greater than my country, a people happier than my people.

I AM AN AMERICAN…I speak for democracy and the dignity of the individual.

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