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Four for the Fourth: Quotations for the American Independence Day

Updated on May 28, 2017
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This Ol' Heart of Mine!

Nothing gets this Brat's heart swelling with pride like Independence Day! Help me celebrate our nation with some majestic thoughts of your own. To help you get started, I've included four quotations and writing prompts. Use them with your students or yourself. Either way...be like TJ (Thomas Jefferson) and put the pen to paper!

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"I Hear America Singing" by Walt Whitman

I hear America singing, the varied carols I hear,

Those of mechanics, each one singing his as it should be blithe and strong,

The carpenter singing his as he measures his plank or beam,

The mason singing his as he makes ready for work, or leaves off work,

The boatman singing what belongs to him in his boat, the deckhand singing on the steamboat deck,

The shoemaker singing as he sits on his bench, the hatter singing as he stands,

The woodcutter's song, the ploughboy’s on his way in the morning, or at noon intermission or sundown,

The delicious singing of the mother, or of the young wife at work, or of the girl sewing or washing,

Each singing what belongs to him or her and none else,

The day what belongs to the day—at night the party of young fellows, robust, friendly,

Singing with open mouths their strong melodious songs.I hear America singing, the varied carols I hear,

Those of mechanics, each one singing his as it should be blithe and strong,

The carpenter singing his as he measures his plank or beam,

The mason singing his as he makes ready for work, or leaves off work,

The boatman singing what belongs to him in his boat, the deckhand singing on the steamboat deck,

The shoemaker singing as he sits on his bench, the hatter singing as he stands,

The woodcutter's song, the ploughboy’s on his way in the morning, or at noon intermission or sundown,

The delicious singing of the mother, or of the young wife at work, or of the girl sewing or washing,

Each singing what belongs to him or her and none else,

The day what belongs to the day—at night the party of young fellows, robust, friendly,

Singing with open mouths their strong melodious songs.

Prompt 1

America sings its way across this grand majestic nation inspiring us in many ways. Tunes like “My Old Kentucky Home,” “Rocky Mountain High,” and “The Road to Boston” bring tears to our eyes and make our chests swell with pride. Forty-nine states have a state song. New Mexico is the only state that doesn’t. Here are two ideas for writing: (1) write a song for the state of New Mexico or (2) write a new song for your state. Some states have more than one state song, so another song for your state would be awesome. Both Stephen Foster and John Denver wrote songs for more than one state. Be creative! Be original! Make your state proud!

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Prompt 2

“Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom, must undergo the fatigue of supporting it.” ~Thomas Paine

Thomas Paine was one of the Founding Fathers of the United States of America. He wrote Common Sense and The American Crisis. Common Sense was so popular in 1776 that every rebel read it or heard it read aloud. It inspired the folks in the thirteen colonies to declare independence from Great Britain. General George Washington read it aloud to his troops. Joh Adams said, “Without the pen of the author of Common Sense, the sword of Washington would have been raised in vain.” Thomas Paine’s Common Sense was an argument for freedom during a time when it was the central issue in politics. Thomas Paine wrote in a style that everybody could understand. He wrote for a particular audience. What do you imagine would have happened if Paine had not written Common Sense? How would your life be different if America had not gained independence from Great Britain?

Unite or Die

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Prompt 3

“The nation will remain the land of the free only so long as it the home of the brave.” ~Elmer Davis

Elmer Davis is, of course, referring to the last line of each stanza of Francis Scott Key’s poem “Defence of Fort M’Henry.” The line reads “O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.” The first stanza of the poem was later set to music and became our National Anthem. The poem was written after Key witnessed the Bombardment of Fort McHenry by British ships of the Royal Navy during the War of 1812. Key was referring to the large American flag flying over the fort and knew that the Americans had been victorious. That day, aboard the ship he was traveling, Key wrote the poem on the back of a letter he was carrying. Think about an event from American History. Write a four stanza poem (four lines per stanza) commemorating the event.

The Star Spangled Banner

"Defence of Fort M'Henry" by Francis Scott Key

O! Say can you see, by the dawn's early light,

What so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming,

Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight,

O'er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming?

And the rockets' red glare, the bombs bursting in air,

Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there —

O! Say, does that Star - Spangled Banner yet wave

O'er the land of the free, and the home of the brave?

On the shore, dimly seen through the mists of the deep,

Where the foe's haughty host in dread silence reposes,

What is that which the breeze o'er the towering steep,

As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?

Now it catches the gleam of the morning's first beam,

In full glory reflected now shines on the stream —

'Tis the star-spangled banner, O! Long may it wave

O'er the land of the free, and the home of the brave.

And where is that band who so vauntingly swore

That the havoc of war and the battle's confusion

A home and a country should leave us no more?

Their blood has washed out their foul foot-steps' pollution,

No refuge could save the hireling and slave,

From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave;

And the Star - Spangled Banner in triumph doth wave

O'er the land of the free, and the home of the brave.

O! Thus be it ever when freemen shall stand

Between their loved home, and the war's desolation,

Blest with victory and peace, may the heaven-rescued land

Praise the power that hath made and preserved us a nation!

Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,

And this be our motto — "In God is our trust!"

And the Star - Spangled Banner in triumph shall wave

O'er the land of the free, and the home of the brave.

Source

Prompt 4

“Liberty is always dangerous, but it is the safest thing we have.” Harry Emerson Fosdick

Liberty has three different connotations. In philosophy, liberty means having free will or choices in our behavior. In politics, freedom means having social, political, and religious rights enjoyed by all citizens. In theology, liberty means freedom from sin. Our modern concept of political freedom has its roots and origins in the Greek concept of slavery. To have democracy meant to have no master. The idea of liberty is intimately linked to the idea of democracy. It was later in history that humans began to associate democracy with fundamental human rights. The United States was the first country to be founded on the notions of liberty. Thomas Jefferson wrote in the Declaration of Independence that all men have a natural right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Machiavelli, an Italian humanist who lived in the sixteenth century, said that a person must a citizen of a self-governing republic to enjoy true liberty. What is your notion of liberty? How would you explain liberty to someone from a country with few rights?

All images were created by Melissa Reese Etheridge.

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    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 2 years ago from Oklahoma

      Great quotes for one of my favorite holidays.

    • Rachel L Alba profile image

      Rachel L Alba 2 years ago from Every Day Cooking and Baking

      I love patriotism. I guess I would say, freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of vote. It would be hard to explain to someone who wasn't born in a free country. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and our beautiful National Anthem. I voted up and interesting. God bless.

    • Dana Tate profile image

      Dana Tate 2 years ago from LOS ANGELES

      Beautiful images you've created here and a extremely well-written and thought provoking hub. A great read. Voted up and useful.

    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 2 years ago from the short journey

      Thanks for sharing your tribute/thoughts as we approach the 4th of July.

      Your closing questions are interesting, and could inspire hubs, but one simple reply is that liberty does not need explaining to those in countries with few rights. They came, learned more about it, made their way in it, and, as Benjamin Rush said when the Constitution was ratified, "'Tis done. We have become a nation."

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