America — what is it? It is a nation composed of millions of living souls, and the ghosts of millions more who have courageously lived and died that it might grow and prosper.
It is a nation built on a heritage of freedom. It is a nation built on names such as William Penn and Paul Revere. It is a nation founded by freedom-seeking citizens like Adams, Washington, Franklin, Jefferson, Nathan Hale and Patrick Henry. It is a nation in which history books have been written about the feats of heroes like John Paul Jones, Daniel Boone, the Green Mountain Boys, Lewis and Clark and Davy Crockett. It is a nation which has grown through sacrifices such as those at Bunker Hill, Valley Forge and Yorktown.
American freedom has been built on events like the battle of Gettysburg, the sinking of the battleships Maine and those at Pearl Harbor. Wherever the call to freedom and peace has sounded, Americans have answered that call. In the interest of world freedom, American dead were left in the Argonne Forest, Flanders Fields, on the rocky island of Corregidor, in the skies of Europe, on the cold, bleak slopes of Korea, in the jungles of southeast Asia and in the Middle East.
America is a patchwork quilt of farmland as seen from 30,000 feet in the air. America is sandy beaches, snow-capped mountains and the congestion of cities, the smoke and production of massive factories. America is the suburbs, television, hot dogs, sports, and a day at the zoo.
America is the Golden Gate Bridge and the sprawling wheat, corn and soybean fields of the Midwest, the potato farms of Idaho and the fabulous forests of the Pacific Northwest. America is the Grand Canyon and the geyser Old Faithful. America is our treasured home in Indiana, a small village in a New England valley, Niagara Falls, an open-pit mine in Montana, a Texas cattle ranch.
Our nation was founded upon Christian principles, recognizing the power of God and their responsibility to Him. Yet, at the same time, the laws of our nation assure every person the freedom to worship, or NOT worship, as they wish without threat of religious oppression.
In our inherited freedom we have an assurance that we, as individuals, have the freedom to apply our interests and potential abilities as we feel led. We can write, produce music and produce works of art. We can be recognized for our achievements, whether young or old, or place in the social aspects of life. Each man, woman or child has been provided the freedom to seek his or her place in society.
Unlike many other nations, we can choose our own government leaders. Each of us has a part in the conduct of the government. When things go wrong, we have the right to protest; when things go right, we have the right to cheer. Our leaders are selected through a political system that has become a model for the world. Though not perfect, there has been none other that has worked as well.
America is a nation in which writings of the past have deep meaning. We look, with respect, upon the Mayflower Compact of 1620, the Declaration of Independence of 1776, the Constitution of 1789 and the Gettysburg Address of 1863.
We are a nation of freedom-loving people. Freedom has become possible of the commitment of many; for the efforts of millions who have bravely opposed tyranny, suppression and slavery.
As we move freely from town to town and across state lines without political check stations, we continually see evidence of our American heritage. Political signs and posters, on lawns and power poles, proclaim the freedom of any man or woman to run for office. The Future Farmers of America, 4-H with its heart, head, health and hands and the Scouts who call to “Be Prepared,” are parts of our American scene. Tiny country churches and giant city cathedrals; the country store or the giant supermarket; tiny rural school or the huge campus facility; all are products of American Freedom.
America is the roar of a giant combine, the whirring looms of a fabric mill, the sprawling expanse of an automotive assembly line. And it is cross-sections of small time entrepreneurs and people trying to live in dignity despite tough times.
I’m proud to be an American. I love my country. I’m proud of my state and community. Even with whatever shortcomings our nation might have, it still has no equal. Thank you, America!