14 July 2010


On the Fourth of July, I always sing our official national anthem, written by Francis Scott Key during the War of 1812, as he watched the bombing of Fort McHenry in Baltimore. I am a fan of Baltimore, and a fan of Francis Scott Key (a graduate of St. John's College, Annapolis, where my son also graduated).

However, on the Fourth of July every year, I also sing what I consider to be our nation's "unofficial national anthem," the great folk tune, "This Land is Your Land." The song represents the broad democratic identity of our country, and it speaks to our eternally hopeful and generous spirit. "This land was made for you and me."

It was the great folk hero, Woody Guthrie, who wrote that happy tune; and today, July 14, is the anniversary of his birth (today is also Bastille Day, when the storming of the Bastille prison added another spark to the fire of the French Revolution). Today, I salute Woody Guthrie's earthy wisdom and care for the common man (the common person). Those values are truly American.

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