©2020 Susan Noyes Anderson
image by Andrew Ruiz on Unsplash
This year, on Independence Day,
it’s hard to know just what to say,
for words are used as weapons now
by some who vow or disavow
whatever stance one might defend,
with all sides easy to offend.
And so I speak with due respect
for any people who reject
the thoughts I claim here as my own…
the feelings I would like made known.
My hope is for the saving grace
of readers who will hold my space.
For space is what each soul deserves,
and every heart is better served
when all are heard quite equally
(even by those who disagree),
in deference to the human right
to view the world from one’s own sight.
And may I add, to speak one’s piece,
with no one trying to decrease
the privilege that all people hold
to air opinions, strong and bold.
So here are mine, for good or ill,
to take or leave just as you will.
American, I’m proud to be,
and I respect our history.
Despite its shortcomings and flaws,
our country merits warm applause
for holding freedom to the light
by bringing forth the Bill of Rights.
No other document sets down
a freedom standard so profound;
and every failure, every breach,
has remedies within our reach.
The beauty of our Constitution
lies in its built-in resolution.
It must have come through inspiration
given to founders of our nation.
Imperfect men God deigned to use
wrote words their hearts could not refuse
and forged a document so fine
that many feel it was divine.
Within these men lay goodness, too,
as in the task they rose to do;
but they were products of their time,
their sins as real as yours and mine.
May every wrong our hands have sown
fail to uproot the good seeds grown.
And in our garden, may we find
a unity of heart and mind,
a love for country that is real
when we fall short of our ideal.
And when we do, may we join hands
in making changes to our land.
Today we face a great divide.
Let all of us be stripped of pride.
Black lives do matter; that’s a fact,
and justice dictates we must act.
Reform police, preserve, protect,
and reverence life in each respect.
Respect our nation’s laws as well.
Each grievance must its own tale tell,
but violence comes to no good end,
and anarchy is no one’s friend.
Seek redress in the courts, in votes,
in peaceful protest, not wild oats.
We have a good thing going here,
a land our grandparents held dear.
Will we abandon it in need
or lift it up in word and deed?
This is our home. Shall we abide
or give in to a swirling tide?
We’ve welcomed many to our shores.
For reasons we should not ignore,
they chose, and they still choose to come,
for all we’ve been and all we’ve done.
May future immigrants find means
of giving birth to all their dreams.
And may we hold our nation high
beneath a still star-spangled sky,
embracing dignity for all
and reaching higher when we fall,
restoring peace, upholding law,
and harboring no fatal flaw.
The power is ours to build or break.
I pray that we will not forsake
the land our parents loved so well,
the soldiers who fought, saved, and fell
for principles that kept us free
to raise or raze our own country.
It’s up to us. It’s you and me.
I hope we find the loyalty
and the conviction to be true
to freedom’s cause in all we do.
Our nation matters in this world.
May we fly high with flags unfurled.
And may this Independence Day
inspire us to find our way.
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