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ON THE DAY when we memorialize those who gave their lives so America would endure, we should ask what it means a citizen of this republic.
Here are the thoughts of one American, a credo for the coming millennia.
I am an American. I was conceived at Plymouth, born in Lexington and Concord, and reached maturity at Philadelphia.
I went through the fires of Shiloh, Gualdacanal, the Chosin Resovoir, Khe Sanh and a thousand other battlefields, and emerged rededicated to the ideals on which America was founded.
I am an American. Ever ready to defend my liberty and independence, to make any sacrifice and bear any burden - still, I seek no quarrel.
I march to the sound of the guns out of necessity alone. I fight not for glory or territory, or to make others bend to my will, but to vindicate my rights and preserve my freedom.
I am an American. I'm proud of my past. Words like Valley Forge, Gettysburg Address and Pearl Harbor -- names like Washington, Jackson, Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt -- make my blood stir.
Glancing behind me, I see generations of men and women who labored and struggled, lived and died to let me stand where I am today -- who cleared the land, planted the crops, built the factories, raised the cities and made the discoveries that created a civilization which all the silent, suffering ranks of slaves, serfs and subjects who came before them could never imagine.
I am an American. While recognizing the errors that were made in nation-building (has a nation ever been built exclusively on light?), I proclaim America's past glorious indeed, a boon to humanity, and consider myself among the blessed of the earth to share this nation's destiny.
I am an American. Liberty is my birthright. To speak my mind, choose my leaders and legislators, defend my home and family, and worship the Creator in my fashion -- these are not privileges, but G od-given rights. Governments can respect or deny them; they cannot change them.
I am an American. I have no rulers. Those who make, interpret and enforce our laws are servants. When they no longer recognize that verity, their authority loses legitimacy.
I am an American. My rights are a sacred trust to be exercised in the cause of justice and virtue. They are not the playthings of a spoiled child or mechanisms of self-indulgence.
I am an American. English is my language. Our ancestors arrived on these shores speaking everything from Chinese to Yiddish. It was English that united us, that allowed us to overcome age-old antagonisms.
From the Mayflower Compact to the latest piece of legislation introduced in Congress, our history and heritage are written in the tongue of the Magna Carta and the King James Bible.
I am an American. I have no distinctive race, religion or ethnicity. I am black, white, yellow, brown and red -- Catholic, Protestant, Jew and Hindu. I came here from the hamlets of Old England, the bogs of Ireland, Napoli's sunny shore, the Pale of Settlement and the villages of Vietnam. American isn't a color or creed, but a state of mind.
I am an American. I welcome immigrants who are here to work and build, who identify with our past and ideals, who were spiritual Americans before they landed. Broken English is fine, as long as faith remains unbroken. An American speaks with the heart as much as the lips.
I am an American. My ism is Americanism. I reject all dogmas and ideologies. Collectivism, racism, militarism and imperialism have no place here. The rot that's eaten away at the soul of so many nations and cultures must be fiercely resisted.
I am an American. I recognize only one loyalty higher than allegiance to our flag -- faith in G od. I acknowledge that America and G od, the physical and the spiritual, are inseparable. America was founded by people of faith and grew to greatness by His grace. I pray that we will always be the instruments of His will.
I am an American. I weep over the fact that American history is no longer taught in our schools. In its place is a worldly, cynical skepticism inculcated by authors and educators at war with our basic values.
I am an American. I cringe at the collection of connivers, cowards, clowns and quacks that passes for our political leadership. I wonder that so many of my compatriots have no idea what America means and show no gratitude for the blessings that are theirs.
I am an American. My ranks grow thin; the night closes in. Whether I will be the last of my kind or the vanguard of their resurgence, only time will
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