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VIII. AMERICAN IDEALS
117. America. 1
“The faith of America is faith in God and man. She believes in brotherhood and opportunity. She believes in justice and mercy. “America has received from all races. She gives to all
One bond binds all races together in her citizenship. It is the bond of loyalty. To be an American is to love America; to believe in America; to serve America.
To be an American is to live by the American ideals of freedom, honor, and service." — Sara Cone Bryant.
118. The Land of Freedom.2
“America is called “The Land of Freedom.' That means that a man here is free to worship God as he pleases, but he must respect the right of others to worship God as they please. He is free to earn his living in the way he likes best, but not in a way that will hurt other people's health, comfort or morals, and not in a way that will prevent them from earning their living as they like best. He is free to have and to use property, but not in such a way as to interfere with equally free use by others of their property. He is free to be happy, but not to interfere with the happiness of others.
“American Freedom gives us precious rights for which humanity has been struggling through the centuries. But only those are worthy of those rights, who realize that it imposes upon us equally great duties. That is what American Democracy means: Duties with Rights! And the first duty of American citizenship is obedience to the law.” – John Foster Carr.
1 From I Am an American.
2 From Immigrant's Guide to the United States, published by Immigrant Publication Society, Inc. Quoted by courtesy of the author.
119. The Meeting-place of all Peoples.
“Remember that in this land of ours all the races, all the peoples, all the faiths of the world, are being brought together and are being fused into one great and indivisible whole, as if to prove that, if men will but come near enough together to know one another, whatever their nationality, their race, their religion, hatred and ill-will and prejudice and all uncharitableness are sure to pass away. Herein let America pioneer. Our country seems destined in the Providence of God to be the meeting-place of all the peoples, to be the world's experimental station in brotherhood - all of us learning that other nations are not barbarians, that other races are not inferior, that other faiths are not Godless."
Stephen S. Wise,
120. American Liberty.
“In America all men are civilly and politically equal; all have the same rights; all wield the same arm of defense and of conquest -- the suffrage; and the sole condition of rights and of power is simple manhood.
.... The divine gift of liberty is God's recognition of man's greatness and man's dignity. In liberty lie the sweetness of life and the power of growth. The loss of liberty is the loss of light and sunshine, the loss of life's best portion. Under the spell of heavenly memories, humanity has ceased to dream of liberty, and to aspire to its possession. Now and then, here and there, liberty had for a moment caressed humanity's brow. But not until the Republic of the West was born, not until the Star-Spangled Banner rose toward the skies, was liberty caught up in humanity's embrace and embodied in a great and abiding nation.
“In America the government takes from the liberty of the citizen only so much as is necessary for the weal of the nation. In America there are no masters who govern in their own right, for their own interest, or at their own will. We have over us no Bourbon saying, 'L'état, c'est moi'; no Hohenzollern proclaiming that in his acts as sovereign he is responsible only to his conscience and to God. Ours is the government of the people, by the people, and for the people. Government is our own organized will.
“In America, rights begin with, and go upward from, the people. In other countries, even in those which are apparently the most free, rights begin with, and come downward from, the State; the rights of citizens, the rights of the people, are concessions which have been wrested from the governing powers.
“In America, whenever the government does not prove its grant, the liberty of the individual citizen remains intact. Elsewhere there are governments called republics; there, too, universal suffrage establishes the State; but once established, the State is tyrannous and arbitrary; invades at will private rights and curtails at will individual liberty. One republic only is liberty's native home — America.”
John Ireland, Archbishop of St. Paul.
121. Creed for Americans.
“I wish to be kind, just, intelligent, diligent and happy, and to persuade others to help me so to be; because I know that in so far as I succeed I shall help my country to be generous, law-abiding, prosperous and progressive; a country in which every one may find so much pleasure as his own nature permits him to earn and to enjoy.
“If my country does wrong, I shall oppose it in that wrong. If any try to injure it, I shall oppose them and if need be I shall fight them.
“I believe that we are and should continue united in the task of making every one each day more nearly equal before our laws, our customs, and our opinions, and in giving to every one every day greater freedom in thought and speech and action; all to the end that all may work together in harmony and in mutual aid to make this a still more desirable dwelling-place for a gentle, intelligent and industrious people." - John Cotton Dana.
122. Every new American citizen can do something to aid
his adopted country. He can contribute his labor, not only because the man who works helps himself, but because he contributes to the common welfare of the nation.
He can offer his life if an emergency arises, as in the Great War just ended.
He can explain to his fellow citizens the benefits that he has obtained from the civilization of his own country. The citizens of America are one and all the descendants of immigrants, and they must never lose their sympathy with the things that are best in other lands. Every country has its national heroes, men whose ideals and deeds may well inspire the people of America. Sobieski, Kossuth, Marco Bozzaris, Kosciusko, John Huss, Garibaldi, Mazzini and Cavour, to mention only a few, should be familiar to all Americans. And, of course, the best way for these men to be introduced to our people is through their fellow country
America believes in the unlimited possibilities of common humanity. She believes that her immigrants, once emancipated from any burdens of the past, and newly established in a society both just and democratic, will contribute much to the spirit and the meaning of American institutions. Every people of Europe has in its music, its art, its literature, its handicrafts, or its folk-lore, something which should be
added to American civilization. And America appeals to her new citizens to do all that they can to fuse these things into a distinctively American civilization.
123. Pledge of the Athenian youths.
From ancient Greece comes this pledge. Its spirit deserves to be perpetuated as a foundation for the service of each American citizen to-day, not only to his city, but also to his State and to the Nation:
“We will never bring disgrace to this our city, by any act of dishonesty or cowardice, nor ever desert our comrades; we will fight for the ideals and sacred things of the city, both alone and with many; we will revere and obey the city laws, and do our best to incite a like respect and reverence in others; we will strive unceasingly to quicken the public's sense of civic duty; that thus in all these ways, we may transmit this city, greater, better, and more beautiful than it was transmitted to us."
124. The New Citizen's Pledge. FOR THE HONOR OF MY FATHERLAND, I will be loyal to my
new country -- my own America! “AMERICA IS OPPORTUNITY” — the Land of the Free and
the Home of the Brave. FREEDOM DOES NOT MEAN MY OWN SELFISH ADVANTAGE.
It means an equal chance; fairness to all. IT IS NOT BRAVE to seek my own success at the expense
or burden of my fellow citizens. True bravery is al
ways fair. Special privilege is unfair, un-American. That I MAY BE LOYAL TO AMERICA, I will live according
to American ideals. I WILL OBEY THE LAW: America is a Republic, where Law
is King; a government of the people, under the law, for the general welfare. Each citizen must be loyal, or