The Land That Has Never Been Yet
July 4, 2002. Ten months after the surprise attack of September 11, this country celebrated what Abraham Lincoln once described as "a new birth of freedom." Since the events of September 11, many Americans had begun to feel for the first time in their lives a surge of patriotism, and bravery, and an overwhelming sense of how precious our freedom is, and how we must protect it.
Over the past two centuries this country's vision of freedom has become more and more powerful, and more and more inclusive. But that vision has yet to be fully realized. It remains a goal toward which we continue to strive. Many years ago a great American poet named Langston Hughes expressed this dream and this hope in a poem called "Let America Be America Again." As a black man he had never known the fullness of freedom promised to Americans, but he had faith that the dream would come true:
O, let America be America again
The land that never has been yet
And yet must bethe land where every man is free.
The land that's minethe poor man's, Indian's, Negro's, ME
Whose sweat and blood, whose faith and pain,
Whose hand at the foundry, whose plow in the rain,
Must bring back our mighty dream again.
Oh yes, I say it plain,
America never was America to me,
And yet I swear this oath
America will be!