It's a great day to be an American. We've had few of those in recent years, instead carrying our shame like Oedipus in exile, blinding ourselves to avoid looking at the sins of our leaders and the depths to which we have sunk, unable to provide a response to the questioning eyes of the world who used to like us, but now were sickened by our appearance or name.
I have made more friends for American culture than the State Department. Certainly I have made fewer enemies, but that isn't very difficult.
But since November 4, 2008, the world is cheering us once again. Now we need to earn it.
Men do change, and change comes like a little wind that ruffles the curtains at dawn, and it comes like the stealthy perfume of wildflowers hidden in the grass.
It's a great day to be an American. For the first time in our history, a black man has been elected president and he, and his wife and children, will live in the White House. It does not end racism. But it's what you'd call a really good start.
I do not weep at the world -- I am too busy sharpening my oyster knife.
Zora Neale Hurston
The U.S. used to be the coolest country in the world. Everybody wanted to come here because we got to choose our own government: no kings, no royal families, no churches selected who would sit at the head of our nation. We chose. We the people. And sometimes we chose poor men who came from nothing but who offered our nation a vision, an intelligence, a direction to move us all forward.
Millions of people left everything, all their family, what they knew, what they had, to travel steerage across rough and sometimes deadly seas in the hopes of arriving on our shores to participate in this great experiment called America. We became known as the country that belonged to the poor, belonged to the working people, not to the privileged or elite. Of course Bush and Cheney have done everything in their power to strip our nation's treasury bare and give everything we own to the privileged and the elite, so we will have to work hard to regain our promise.
Just imagine for a moment what life in this country might have been if women had been properly represented in Congress. Would a Congress where women in all their diversity were represented tolerate the countless laws now on the books that discriminate against women in all phases of their lives? Would a Congress with adequate representation of women have allowed this country to reach the 1970s without a national health care system? Would it have permitted this country to rank fourteenth in infant mortality among the developed nations of the world? Would it have allowed the situation we now have in which thousands of kids grow up without decent care because their working mothers have no place to leave them? ... Would it consent to the perverted sense of priorities that has dominated our government for decades, where billions have been appropriated for war while our human needs as a people have been neglected?
"The New Colossus" (Emma Lazarus, 1883)
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
"Keep ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"
I am always talking about the human condition and about American society in particular: what it is like to be human, what makes us weep, what makes us fall and stumble and somehow rise and go on from darkness into darkness and that darkness carpeted.
So put out your flags today and dress in red, white, and blue, because today we are all Yankee Doodle Dandys.
George M. Cohan, born July 3, 1878 in Providence, Rhode Island, died November 1942. Great American songwriter and performer of Irish descent, who began his theatre life performing with his entire family. He was known for closing his performances with the following: "Ladies and gentlemen, my mother thanks you, my father thanks you, my sister thanks you, and, I assure you, I thank you.""Yankee Doodle Dandy" by George M. Cohan (partial lyrics)
(followed by "Give My Regards To Broadway," both performed by the multi-talented and quite amazing Jimmy Cagney)
I'm a Yankee Doodle Dandy,
A Yankee Doodle do or die;
A real live nephew of my Uncle Sam's.
Born on the Fourth of July.
I've got a Yankee Doodle sweetheart,
She's my Yankee Doodle joy.
Yankee Doodle came to London,Just to ride the ponies,
I'm a Yankee Doodle boy.