Let every American, every lover of liberty, every well wisher to his posterity, swear by the blood of the Revolution, never to violate in the least particular, the laws of the country; and never to tolerate their violation by others.

As the patriots of seventy-six did to the support of the Declaration of Independence, so to the support of the Constitution and Laws, let every American pledge his life, his property, and his sacred honor; let every man remember that to violate the law, is to trample on the blood of his father, and to tear the charter of his own, and his children's liberty.

Let reverence for the laws, be breathed by every American mother, to the lisping babe, that prattles on her lap; let it be taught in schools, in seminaries, and in colleges; let it be written in Primers, spelling books, and in Almanacs; let it be preached from the pulpit, proclaimed in legislative halls, and enforced in courts of justice. And, in short, let it become the political religion of the nation; and Let the old and the young, the rich and the poor, the grave and the gay, of all sexes and tongues, and colors and conditions, sacrifice unceasingly upon its altars.

While ever a state of feeling, such as this, shall universally, or even, very generally prevail throughout the nation, vain will be every effort, and fruitless every attempt, to subvert our national freedom.

- Abraham Lincoln, January 27, 1838
  Address Before the Young Men's Lyceum of Springfield, Illinois

Friday, June 22, 2007

Saving Patriotism (Song for America)

We recently began rehearsals for our annual July 4th 'Pops' Concert. Independence day, fireworks, the 1812 Overture, and many other traditional standards.

Every year, I find it harder to sing these familiar, patriotic songs without a lump in my throat. I actually thought about skipping the concert this year. I can barely make it through rehearsal without tears welling in my eyes, and the words sticking in my throat.

What does it mean to be American today? I can't help but feel that David Bowie is more relevant than the haunting, patriotic standards of my childhood:

A little piece of you
A little piece in me will die

For this is not America

Our national honor has been squandered; our global respect, forfeited. Our morality is sliding down a tortured, slippery slope into the very evil our grandfathers thought they had conquered. Overseas, our soldiers are killing and dying -- and we don't even know why.

I am clinging to my patriotism, my idea of who we are. America the beautiful. America the free. I refuse to let this go.

I have drawn a line in the sand; I stand with the Republic, not the empire.

O beautiful for spacious skies, for amber waves of grain

For purple

Above the fruited plain

America! America! God shed his grace on thee

And crown thy good With brotherhood

From sea to shining sea!

Oh beautiful for pilgrim feet, whose stern impassion'd stress

A thoroughfare for freedom beat, across the wilderness

God mend
thine every

Confirm thy soul in self control

Thy liberty in law

O beautiful for patriot dream, that sees beyond the years

Thine alabaster cities gleam, Undimmed by human tears

America! America! God shed his grace on thee

And crown
thy good

From sea to shining sea!

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