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Transcript:

January 16, 2009

BILL MOYERS: It's remarkable, as Simon Schama just reminded us, how so many millions of Americans are coming together in their "collective thoughtfulness," and getting involved in politics and public service.

Consider this: a few years ago, the writer and producer Norman Lear - made famous and rich by such celebrated television series as ALL IN THE FAMILY, THE JEFFERSONS, and MAUDE - bought one of the original copies of the Declaration of Independence, printed on the night of July 4th, 1776. He toured it around the country to inspire a new generation with its message and mission.

NORMAN LEAR: These people who signed that declaration pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor. Sacred honor. I mean, that phrase, has always knocked me out. To the citizens of this experimental in democracy depends on that we can pledge.

BILL MOYERS: Now, Norman Lear is campaigning for a new birth of patriotism on the part of every one of us, as an act of personal commitment, not just sentiment.

He'll be taking that message to Barack Obama's inauguration to the sound of music. Norman commissioned Keith Carradine to write a song, "Born Again American", that will be performed at a gala Sunday night at, where else, Washington's Renaissance Hotel, performed by singers and musicians from around the country. On the newly launched "Born Again American" website you can hear the entire song.

VARIOUS SINGERS/MUSICIANS: Just a workin' man without a job
It got shipped off to China via Washington, D.C.
But I know I'm nothing special, there are plenty more like me
But just the same
I thought I knew the rules of the game
My brother's welding chassis at the plant
He's earning what our granddad did in 1948
While CEOs count bonuses behind the castle gates
How can they see
When all they care about's the do, re, mi.
It's getting where there's no where left to turn
Not since the crash of twenty-nine have things been so unfair
So many of our citizens are living in despair
The time has come to reaffirm that hope's not just for some.
The promise of America surrendering to greed
The rule is just look out for number one
But brace yourself 'cause some of us have sown a different seed
A harvest of the spirit has begun
I'm a born-again American conceived in liberty
My Bible and my Bill of Rights
My creed's equality
I'm a born-again American, my country 'tis of me
And everyone who shares the dream from sea to shining sea.

BILL MOYERS: There you have it-the promise of America is not alone a government project; it's in our hands, and requires each of us to take our own oath of commitment.
On our Web site at pbs.org, you can link to the Born Again American site, where you'll find their version of that oath. We also link to other organizations observing Martin Luther King Day on Monday as a national day of community service. As Simon Schama writes in the American future, this republic is shouting to be remade. That's a job for everyone.

I'm Bill Moyers. See you next week.

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