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ciation by an audience when it realizes that the Creed sums up “the best in American ideals, history, and tradition, as expressed by the Founders of the Republic and its greatest statesmen and writers."
A citizen who understands the American's Creed, believes in its principles, and lives up to its mandates is an American in thought and in action.
Audience participation, if carefully planned, can be made a very effective part of the
of the program. Mass recital of the American's Creed, the Oath of Allegiance, and the Pledge to the Flag; the singing of patriotic songs; and the Salute to the Flag should, however, be under capable direction. In order to stimulate the audience to better understanding and deeper appreciation of the part in which they share, the leader of audience participation may use an emotional part of the occasion for a short but meaningful expression before the Pledge 18 given.
For example, in a New York City celebration, the climax of a gripping program came when Judge Learned Hand, Senior Judge, United States Circuit Court of Appeals, spoke briefly before he led a vast audience in a solemn and unforgettable mass Pledge of Allegiance.
“We have gathered here,” said Judge Hand, “to affirm a faith, a faith in a common purpose, a common conviction, a common devotion-America. I ask you to arise and with me to pledge our faith in the glorious destiny of our beloved country.
The entire throng of 1,400,000, including 150,000 young men and women of voting age and thousands of others who had been newly naturalized, rose and in unison pledged their faith to this great ideal.
On the Pacific side of our Nation during the last year of World War II, seventy-five thousand people seven thousand of whom had been
Arizona Republic. “I Am an American Day,” 1944. "Were one to set out on the streets of the towns or the highways in the rural areas and ask all one met the question, 'What is an American?' one would obtain a wide variance of answers. Perhaps, the nearest approach to a correct answer to the query is found in "The American's Creed'.
“The individual who lives up to this creed, who believes in it strong enough to follow its mandates, and who has faith in the Almighty Father under whose divine guidance this Nation has prospered, can truly be said to be an American. Unfortunately, there are many who call themselves Americans * * * who are not Americans at all, either in principle or ideology, nor do they abide by The American's Creed."
naturalized or had reached their twenty-first birthday during the preceding year-gathered in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum to dedicate themselves anew to the principles for which this Nation stands. An army color guard raised the flag to the top of the Coliseum pole high above the crowd, where a breeze sent its folds rippling. The band swung into the stately national anthem, and the great crowd stood, proudly and reverently facing “Old Glory.” To the new citizens the flag took on a deeper meaning—it was their flag now to protect and defend. To all other citizens came a better understanding of the significance of America through the blending of the old and new under a common flag. They were “Americans All.”
As they gazed upon the National Emblem, the thoughts of the many thousands who gathered there must have centered upon those in our armed services, especially upon those who were defending the American faith overseas. Judge J. F. T. O'Connor, of the United States District Court, seemed to sense this when he arose to lead the great throng in the Pledge of Allegiance.
Solemnly he said: “Let the men overseas hear you!” And the crowd, heeding his words, sent forth in a mighty chorus, “the Pledge that bound them, old citizens and new, young and white-haired, in uniform and out, to protect, to defend and be loyal.”
At the Albany, New York, 1946 celebration, the audience rose in a marvelous tribute when their local hero—the winner of the Congressional Medal of Honor, Peter J. D’Allesandrostepped forward to read the American's Creed. They realized that the war hero spoke words that he had put into fierce action against the enemy, and for which he had received the Nation's highest military award.
An address offers one of the best mediums for emphasizing the importance of citizenship. Like the address to new citizens at the court induction ceremony, it should be short and inspirational and should center around the implications of citizenship. Speeches that tax audiences to boredom with scattered thoughts, lengthily extended and poorly delivered, can do much to kill the effectiveness of Citizenship Day ceremonies. Emphasizing alike the duties and privileges, the obligations and rights of our American citizenship, an address can make a lasting impression upon an audience and deepen its devotion to our democracy.
In recent years many fine addresses have been delivered. Several factors were responsible for their success. One of the most important was the care that many communities exercised in selecting the principal speaker. Generally, only outstanding speakers, either from the locality itself or from the outside, were chosen. Occasionally, notable foreign-born citizens or heroes returned from the battle fronts were selected. Persons from the latter groups delivered messages that were deeply felt by the listeners. They were appreciated all the more because the speakers themselves exemplified the meaning of citizenship.
Addresses should have titles descriptive of their content, which should follow the theme of the occasion. They should also be worded to catch the imagination. Suggested titles, some of which have been used, are:
I Am an American
Americanism Exemplified. In developing the theme of the day, speeches can be made effective if the speakers draw illustrations from matters of local interest. A speaker may refer to significant contributions to American life made by the community in the past. He can emphasize “Americanism Exemplified” by extolling the characters of local sons and daughters who have played outstanding roles, locally or nationally. For example, he may speak of heroes who, while serving in the armed forces of the United States, performed valorous deeds; of scientists and educators whose efforts have turned the darkness of ignorance into the light of knowledge; of humanitarians who, as great servants of mankind, have added to the health, welfare, and happiness of their fellowmen; or of others whose imagination and skill in the creative arts have enriched the lives of their countrymen.
Celebrations held in communities rich in historical background afford speakers the opportunity of recalling to memory, either directly or indirectly, the spiritual heritage of which the monuments and historical places of the community are present witness. They can be used to instill in their listeners a deeper appreciation of their debt to the past and of their obligations to the present and the future.
In the Nation's Capital, for instance, are many shrines that symbolize the soul of our country, that record America's history, and that foretell her destiny. Pointing to the stars, the Washington Monument memorializes the unselfish devotion of the Father of Our Country to the cause of freedom. The Jefferson Memorial embodies the spirit of the man who expressed the basic principles of our national life, who gave to this Nation its democratic mission, and who enunciated the principle that the rights of man are universal. The Lincoln Memorial, dedicated to the memory of a man whose great heart held love for all humanity, calls to mind that liberty is indivisible. The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington Cemetery reminds us that America reverently remembers its unknown and unsung heroes who sacrificed themselves for the rights and privileges that we all enjoy. The National Capitol, itself, silhouetted against an ever changing sky, signifies to the world the right of a free people to govern themselves.
Truly speakers can most effectively give vivid expression to the rights and responsibilities of citizenship by referring to local and national shrines. In Boston, a speaker would be most remiss if he did not point out the inspiring meaning of the many national shrines in and around that city: Plymouth Rock, where the passengers of the Mayflower, seeking freedom of religion, landed to set up a new type of government; Faneuil Hall, “The Cradle of American Liberty,'
where Samuel Adams, John Hancock, and others of Revolutionary War fame delivered their fiery speeches, and within whose holy walls once reposed the body of Crispus Attucks, a Negro, the first victim of the Boston massacre and America's first martyr to the cause of freedom; Boston Harbor, where the famous Tea Party flung British tea overboard; the route of Paul Revere's unforgettable ride in the darkness of the night to warn of the coming of the British; Lexington Green, where the War of Independence began; Concord Bridge, marked by a statue of the Minute Man on which is carved the imperishable words
Here once the embattled farmers stood and fired the shot
heard round the world; and Bunker Hill, which bears mute testimony of a military defeat but offers eloquent proof of the unconquerable spirit that ultimately wins when engaged in a righteous cause.
In Philadelphia, where our Nation was born, Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell are never-ending sources of inspiration. Valley Forge, nearby—representing what Washington and his ragged, starving soldiers fought and prayed for-furnishes patriotic and stirring material out of which speeches may be built.
On Virginia soil are many reminders of those giants in mind and spirit who played their part upon the stage of our early national history when our liberty-loving forefathers were small in number, but big in hope and aspiration: Patrick Henry, whose voice rang out in the cause of liberty and sounded the call to battle; George Mason, who laid the cornerstone of individual freedom in the Virginia Bill of Rights; Jefferson, who wrote his zeal for democracy into our Nation's basic charters of liberties—the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights of the Constitution of the United States.
Counterparts of Hancock, Adams, Henry, Mason, Jefferson, and Washington, and of countless other patriots who have stood for the great values of life, defended the things we love, protected the things we cherish, and followed the God we worship may be found through. out the history of all the broad reaches of our land.
When speakers remind their audiences of these inspirational contributions to the ideals of liberty, good Americans will renew their efforts to achieve the hopes of the future, to keep the faith of our