Learned Hand's "Spirit of Liberty" (1944)

March 21, 2014
I Am An American Day was first designated by Congress in 1940 to be celebrated on the third Sunday of May, but was later moved in 1952 to September 17 and renamed Constitution Day and Citizenship Day. Learned Hand's "Spirit of Liberty" speech was delivered on May 21, 1944 at an event in New York City's Central Park. With the world still in the middle of a war, the speech reaffirmed the country's faith that freedom is worth fighting for. The overall tone is uplifting. It starts by recognizing the physical gathering of the audience, and ends by uniting everyone in a recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance.
E-text available here.
We have gathered here to affirm a faith, a faith in a common purpose, a common conviction, a common devotion.
We sought liberty--freedom from oppression, freedom from want, freedom to be ourselves.
And what is this liberty which must lie in the hearts of men and women? It is not the ruthless, the unbridled will
It is not the ruthless, the unbridled will; it is not freedom to do as one likes.
That is the denial of liberty, and leads straight to its overthrow.
A society in which men recognize no check upon their freedom soon becomes a society where freedom is the possession of only a savage few--as we have learned to our sorrow.
the spirit of liberty is the spirit which weighs their interest alongside its own without bias
the spirit of liberty remembers that not even a sparrow falls to earth unheeded
And now in that spirit, that spirit of an American which has never been, and which may never be--nay, which never will be except as the conscience and courage of Americans create it
yet in the spirit of America which lies hidden in some form in the aspirations of us all
in the spirit of that America for which our young men are at this moment fighting and dying; in that spirit of liberty and of America so prosperous, and safe, and contented
we shall have failed to grasp its meaning, and shall have been truant to its promise
except as we strive to make it a signal, a beacon, a standard to which the best hopes of mankind will ever turn
In confidence that you share that belief, I now ask you to raise you hand and repeat with me this pledge
I pledge allegiance to the flag and to the United States of America and to the republic for which it stands--One nation, Indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

Rate this wordlist:

Do you have a comment?

Share it with the Visual Thesaurus community.

Your comments:

Sign in to post a comment!

We're sorry, you must be a subscriber to comment.

Click here to subscribe today.

Already a subscriber? Click here to login.

Create a new Word List