Declaration of Independence (1776)
"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness."
Gettysburg Address (1863)
Given by Abraham Lincoln
"...We cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we cannot hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead who struggled here have consecrated it far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living rather to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us--that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion--that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain, that this nation under God shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth."
Written by Katharine Lee Bates
O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain.
God shed His grace on thee,
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea.
O beautiful for pilgrim feet,
Whose stern impassion'd stress
A thoroughfare for freedom beat
Across the wilderness.
God men thine ev'ry flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self-control,
Thy liberty in law.
O beautiful for heroes prov'd
In liberating strife,
Who more than self their country loved,
And mercy more than life.
May God thy gold refine
Till all success be nobleness,
And ev'ry grain divine.
O Beautiful for patriot dream
that sees beyond the years.
Thine alabaster cities gleam,
Undimmed by human tears.
God shed his grace on thee,
And crown thy good with brotherhood,
From sea to shining sea.
Franklin D. Roosevelt's Third Inaugural Address (1941)
"The preservation of the sacred fire of liberty and the destiny of the republican model of government are justly considered deeply; finally, staked on the experiment intrusted to the hands of the American people.
If we lose that sacred fire, if we let it be smothered with doubt and fear, then we shall reject the destiny which Washington strove so valiantly and so triumphantly to establish. The preservation of the spirit and faith of the Nation does, and will, furnish the highest justification for every sacrifice that we may make in the cause of national defense.
In the face of great perils never before encountered, our strong purpose is to protect and to perpetuate the integrity of democracy. For this we muster the spirit of America, and the faith of America. We do not retreat. We are not content to stand still. As Americans, we go forward, in the service of our country, by the will of God."
By Martin Luther King Jr.
"I say to you today, my friends, that in spite of the difficulties and frustrations of the moment, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.
I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal."
I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slaveowners will be able to sit down together at a table of brotherhood.
I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a desert state, sweltering with the heat of injustice and oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.
I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.
I have a dream today.
I have a dream that one day the state of Alabama, whose governor's lips are presently dripping with the words of interposition and nullification, will be transformed into a situation where little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls and walk together as sisters and brothers.
I have a dream today.
I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together."
A Prayer for Our Country (Jewish)
From Weekday, Sabbath and Festival Prayer Book, Behrman House (1983)
Heavenly father, we invoke thy blessings upon the President of the United States of America and upon all the leaders of our country. Protect them with thy mercy and sustain them with thy good counsel. Inspire them to govern the nation in faithfulness and in truth and direct them ever to seek the welfare of all the inhabitants of our land. Grant them to know that a nation is exhaled by righteousness, but that the perversion of righteousness is a reproach to any people. Thou who art the Lord of all mankind implant within our hearts a respectful law and a resoluteness of purpose in advancing the cause of freedom, justice and peace. Prosper our country in all her worthy endeavors and help her to be a force for good among all the nations of the world. Amen.
bless our nation
and make it true
to the ideas of freedom and justice
and brotherhood for all who make it great.
Guard us from war,
from fire and wind,
from compromise, fear, confusion.
Be close to our president and our statesmen;
give them vision and courage,
as they ponder decisions affecting peace
and the future of the world.
Make me more deeply aware of my heritage;
realizing not only my rights
but also my duties
and responsibilities as a citizen.
Make this great land
and all its people
know clearly Your will,
that they may fulfill
the destiny ordained for us
in the salvation of the nations,
and the restoring of all things in Christ.
On the Pulse of Morning (1993)
By Maya Angelou
"Today I call you to my riverside
If you will study war no more. Come,
Clad in peace and I will sing the songs
The Creator gave to me when I and the
Tree and the stone were one.
Before cynicism was a bloody sear across your
Brow and when you yet knew you still
The River sings and sings on.
There is a true yearning to respond to
The singing River and the wise Rock.
So say the Asian, the Hispanic, the Jew
The African and Native American, the Sioux,
The Catholic, the Muslim, the French, the Greek
The Irish, the Rabbi, the Priest, the Sheikh,
The Gay, the Straight, the Preacher,
The privileged, the homeless, the Teacher.
They hear. They all hear
The speaking of the Tree.
Today, the first and last of every Tree
Speaks to humankind. Come to me, here beside the River.
Plant yourself beside me, here beside the River."