Friday, July 4, 2008

I reaffirm my allegiance

Editor's note: The following letter, I Reaffirm My Allegiance, was originally published in the Washington Post on July 4, 1976:

July 4What am I?

I am a free man — a good and decent man — a man of compassion, generosity, and understanding — a true friend, a steadfast ally, and a bitter foe.

I owe my allegiance to a government founded in the belief that among the rights of man are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Indeed, I would acknowledge no other. I can redress my government for injury; not satisfied with redress, I can elect a new one. I have watched my government function smoothly during periods of transfer of power caused by re-election, assassination, and resignation.

While other nations have a distinct race, religion, and/or geographic denominator, I live among people of my home without fear of intrusion by anyone — citizen or government designee — unless they have my personal invitation or a duly authorized search warrant.

I have a press to keep me informed — a press free to write, without inhibition, the truth as they see it. A press that needs fear no repression, no retaliation, no censorship so long as it prints the truth.

I live under a system of justice, merciful and fairly administered, where I am assumed innocent until proven guilty — a system which provides me appellate privilege while denying it to the power of the state.

I am free to go anywhere I want, earn my living in any way that suits me and, based on that freedom, I have created a standard of living unequalled in the history of man and envied the world over.

I have suffered in humility at the consequences of my mistakes — economic deprivation, social injustice, unequal opportunity and racial prejudice to name a few — but, once aware of these mistakes, I have set out to right the wrongs they created.

July 4I have faced challenges to my way of life. I have fought and died countless times from Lexington and Concord to Vietnam. I was humbled at Valley Forge, Pearl Harbor, Corregidor and Malmedy. But these experiences gave me the character I needed to go to Yorktown, Gettysburg, Midway and Normandy. I cherish my freedom above all else — I bow to no tyrant.

I am two hundred years old today. I have never been so proud of my ancient heritage, so grateful for my present situation, and so confident of the future. Today, I reaffirm my allegiance to, faith in, and love of my country. To the proposition that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth, I do humbly pledge my life, my fortune, and my sacred honor.

I am an American.

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