This I Believe

Harry - Jacksonville, Florida
Entered on January 3, 2008
Age Group: 65+
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I am an American

As a schoolboy, I pledged my allegiance to our flag,

and waved goodbyes to the fathers who went off to war.

Knowing I was an American.

I collected tin, and rubber, and scraps of all kind,

to carry to the collection centers for our war effort,

while we did without meat, butter, and sugar for our soldiers.

Proud to be an American.

And when I was old enough, I took up the uniform and the flag

and proudly represented my country around the world,

to all those who would envy her.

As should any American.

I watched my comrades shed their blood,

and grieved with their widows and children

while I carried the guilt of survival.

Remembering always that I am an American.

I have heard the bombs, and seen the faces,

felt the pain, and wiped the tears.

I have attended the memorials of fallen heroes.

Yes, I am an American.

And, I have come home to feel the sting,

the derision, and the ridicule of my countrymen,

who cannot reason a need to serve.

But, still, I am an American.

They have the right to speak, no matter what they say;

They have the freedom to live as they might,

and to chose their fate, their direction, and their future,

They are Americans.

But I, too, am a citizen.

And while I wore the uniform of my country,

I had no such liberties, no right to speak, no choice of my future,

nor many of the freedoms I was sworn to preserve.

But, as an American,

I learned that liberty is not a right of birth,

that freedom demands eternal vigilance, and that

America exists only because honorable men have sacrificed.

And, although I ponder the politics,

our national morality, or the future of this land,

my faith in its people remains unshakable

because I am an American!

I know that schoolboys will always pledge their allegiance,

and, like their fathers, they will take up the uniform,

hear the bombs, and feel the pain.

For they are the future; they too, are Americans.

Yes, I am an American,

Proud . . . yet humble.

And, though the world cannot hear my single voice

These words will echo as long as our banner flies:

We are Americans,

We are. . . free!