I am America —
Take me away and you’ve removed a dream
You’ve taken hope away —
A vision and a promise.
I am not the country.
The country is carefully curled up in me.
I am America, the dream that gave birth to a nation,
To become a country among the nations of the world.
America: big, bold, tall, sturdy, and compassionate.
I’m coming of age — a dream taking shape
Creating a land of opportunity, equality and justice for all.
I was born in a revolutionary struggle in ’76,
My ancestors came over on the Mayflower.
They had a vision and a dream in Jamestown and Massachusetts Bay, a
vision that brought them to battlefields in Lexington and Concord with
painful birth contractions measured by Minutemen marching to Bunker
Hill, determined to be self-sufficient, independent.
I arrived full of hope, full of determination.
I am America — I mark well the birth in a log cabin
In Kentucky on February 12, 1809.
They tried to kill me at Gettysburg.
They killed my son in the Ford theater.
They killed another in Dallas,
Another in Memphis, but they haven’t killed me,
They haven’t killed the dream.
I rise up out of the ashes again and again,
I am tenacious, they can’t throw me off,
They can’t shake me loose, I can hold on!
My dream digs deep into the soul of the nation —
I embody dreams. They won’t go away.
They are persistent.
I am America: I occupy the land, I spread myself out
Gazing up at the stars, outward at the future, the dream.
My head is in the Arctic, my feet in the Pacific Islands.
I bulge with mountains and stretch with long prairies,
The rocky Maine coast is at one shoulder,
The peaceful Pacific rolls onto the other.
Minerals, forests, and a bountiful harvest provide an Abundance that
makes me a prize among the nations.
I am America, a vision and a hope of democracy.
I share power with the people.
I share wealth and the abundance with the people.
I am America, a country-in-the-making.
I am not perfect. I have my faults,
I’ve had my failures.
The vision has sometimes seemed to slip away,
The dream turned soar with greed, prejudice and hatred.
But I awake and shake off the dark night of the soul.
I promise much and I keep my promises in my own time.
I’ll deliver yet. Hang around. You’ll see.
There are great cities in my heart, working,
Circulating the life blood from shore to shore,
North to south.
The marrow of my bones comes from the indigenous peoples — from hundreds
of tribes of Native Americans; and from African peoples, and people from
England, Ireland, Italy, Poland, Russia — from Scandinavia, South
America — from the Semitic peoples — Jews, Palestinians and from people of
the rising sun — Orientals from China, Japan, Korea… from India… from every
corner of the globe.
Always hope was in the hearts of those who arrived at my shores — as the early travelers had hope
for religious and political freedom, for economic opportunity.
I am America. I am alive and well. I am substantial.
I’ve died a thousand deaths, but my soul survives,
Incarnated over and over again
From Washington to Lincoln to Jefferson;
Reinterpreted by Emerson, Thoreau and Lincoln;
Sung in the lusty songs of Whitman;
Sweetly sung again in the songs of Sandburg and Frost.
Then exemplified by Rosa Parks who sat still,
Articulated by the dream of Martin Luther King.
I am America: I’ve been betrayed by some;
Misunderstood, cheated and violated by others.
I am America, a youth among the older nations
I stand tall and proud in the assembly of nations
Strong, determined to correct the flaws,
The mistakes my statesmen made in my youth
Determined to keep the dream alive,
To bring it to full fruition.
I am America, I’ve traveled the long journey,
I’m marching the freedom march, the road is long.
I can change, adapt, reverse myself, modify and reform.
I am alterable.
The central vision that creates me remains permanent,
I don’t need help from those who try to protect me from criticism — these
friends are more difficult than those who have announced their open
hostility — I can resist the attacks of those who are hostile;
the others eat away at my core, the friends who have lost faith, or
didn’t understand me to begin with.
But I am strong. Put me to the test. I am resilient.
I can withstand the shock.
I am America, the dream-in-the-making
I travel the long journey,
I arrive again and again;
I take up residence in the hearts of dreamers
and lovers of freedom, lovers of peace and democracy,
lovers of life…
I am America. I’m knocking on your door. Let me in!