Books and essays have been written about those events, memorials constructed, and that day is forever etched in the minds of all Americans. We reflected on what it means to be an American and what liberty means to us. Let me take you back to October 31, 1940, when a student from the Pine Plains Central School District wrote an editorial for the school newspaper – The Central Sun. No matter what the year, your place of residence, or political affiliation, we continue to ponder the same dilemma. I offer this essay as written in that school newspaper.
“Most of us here in America take so much for granted. How many have stopped to think what Americanism really means; and just what makes it different.
First of all, our Constitution guarantees us religious and political liberties, along with freedom of speech. It is in America that we may criticize the Presidents activities openly and without fear. In these United States we are also guaranteed a trial by Jury, an unusual occurrence in the world today.
Many of us object to refugees coming to our shores at this time. Did you ever stop to realize that the Pilgrims too were refugees, seeking freedom! We owe a great deal to the people who started the Crusade of religious tolerance and freedom of speech. Are we to give up the ideals for which they so bravely fought?
Another thing which makes Americanism different is the Flag and its meaning. In some countries of Europe today, it stands for a political party. Ours represents we the people, of these United States. The thirteen stripes stand for the original thirteen colonies. The stars for the individual states. Illustrating the fact that this country is made up of cooperative states, each holding an important part in the function of our national government.
Our Flag has ever stood for justice and humanity. More than 130,000,000 people owe it allegiance, a vast assemblage composed of nearly every race in the world, but all united by one bond of loyalty and devotion to the Flag which symbolizes Liberty. Americanism means LIBERTY to me! What does it mean to you?”
Pine Plains Central School. The Central Sun, October 31, 1940. Student editorial.
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