I was born on July 4, 1776, and the Declaration of Independence is my birth certificate.  The bloodlines of the world run in my veins, because I offered freedom to the oppressed.  I am many things and many people.  I am the United States.

I am 213 million living souls, and the ghost of millions who have lived and died for me.

I am Nathan Hale and Paul Revere.  I stood at Lexington and fired the shot heard around the world.  I am Washington, Jefferson, and Patrick Henry.  I am John Paul Jones, the Green Mountain boys, and Davy Crockett.  I am Lee, Grant, and Abe Lincoln.

I am the Brooklyn Bridge, the wheat lands of Kansas, and the granite hills of Vermont.  I am the coal fields of the Virginias and Pennsylvania; the fertile lands of the West; the Golden Gate and the Grand Canyon.  I am Independence Hall, the Monitor and the Merrimac.

I am big.  I sprawl from the Atlantic to the Pacific...my arms reach out to embrace Alaska and Hawaii...three million square miles throbbing with industry.  I am more than 5,000,000 farms; I am forest, field, mountain and desert.  I am quiet villages...and cities that never sleep.  You can look at me and see Ben Franklin walking down the streets of Philadelphia with his bread loaf under his arm.  You can see Betsy Ross with her needle.  You can see the lights of Christmas, and hear the strains of "Auld Lang Syne" as the calendar turns.

I am Babe Ruth and the World Series.  I am 110,000 schools and colleges and 330,000 churches where people worship God as they think best.  I am a ballot dropped in a box, the roar of a crowd in a stadium, and the voice of a choir in a cathedral.  I am an editorial in a newspaper, and a letter to a Congressman.

I am Eli Whitney and Stephen Foster.  I am Tom Edison, Albert Einstein, and Billy Graham.  I am Horace Greeley, Will Rogers, and the Wright brothers.  I am George Washington Carver, Jonas Salk and Martin Luther King Jr.  I am Longfellow, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Walt Whitman and Thomas Paine.

Yes, I am the Nation, and these are the things that I am.  I was conceived in freedom, and, God willing, in freedom will I spend the rest of my days.  May I possess always the integrity, the courage, and the strength to keep myself unshackled, to remain a citadel of freedom and a beacon of hope to the world.

I am the United States!

Otto Whittaker
1955