From days in memoriam to days of celebration Americans gather and unite. Patriotism is a deep root that began with the Independence of the United States. From composers like Francis Scott Key to poets like Maya Angelou who have given voice to the heart of Americans everywhere we celebrate.
Standing on the West Front of the Capital; Maya Angelou became the first African-American and first woman inaugural poet when she read "On the Pulse of Morning." A poem she wrote for the new president, Bill Clinton. The five-minute reading was only the second time a poet has read at a presidential inauguration.
"History, despite its wrenching pain,
Cannot be unlived, and if faced
With courage, need not be lived again."
Maya Angelou would later say that the poem was meant to be both inspirational and realistic, to touch upon some of the United States' dark past and her hope for the future. In the five-minute reading, Maya Angelou preached inclusion and concluded with an uplifting message that reflected Clinton's inaugural address and his vision for the presidency.
"Here on the pulse of this new day
You may have the grace to look up and out
And into your sister's eyes, into
Your brother's face, your country
And say simply
There are still living who remember the bombing of Pearl Harbor. There are others who still hope for the return of a loved one from the Vietnam War. There are soldiers who stand at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Many of us witnessed silently the fall of the Twin Towers. We cried out in deep sorrow at the loss of so many lives on that dreadful September morning.
Yet, we found comfort in a stranger's arms. We became united as a country. We found common ground with our neighbor. And we even forgave our enemy.
Presidential Candidates and Miss America Contestants alike have been interviewed to ascertain where they stand on various political issues, human atrocities and sometimes their personal opinions on any given topic. Their answers will determine whether they will be the best representative of the American people. One of the most important questions we can ask any human being living in the United States is:
"Why are you proud to be an American?"
I am proud to be an American for so many reasons. Mostly, because of the freedoms we share and the opportunities that are abundant in this land. I am grateful for the wisdom of our fore fathers in declaring independence and establishing what it means to live in America. This land is free and will never be subject to bondage. I am grateful for the many lives that have ensured that one fact.
Please join me in responding to that very important question:
Why are you proud to be an American?