There are twelve quotations or excerpts from documents, that are included in our passports to express the beliefs of the American People. Five of the twelve quotes are by presidents of our great Nation. All twelve are beautiful and inspiring. I encourage you to look at them the next time you pull out your passport. I am focusing primarily on the presidential quotes today.
|Birthplace of George Washington|
“Let us raise a standard to which the wise and honest can repair.”
|The first Capitol of the U.S., in Annapolis, MD|
“We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
excerpt from the Declaration of Independence
As we know, Thomas Jefferson was the author of much of the Declaration of Independence, although his name is not printed in the passport. I love Jefferson’s way of saying essentially, ‘well, of COURSE we are all equal, Duh.” Of course from the perspective of 2018, we recognize that Jefferson owned slaves and nowhere in our nation were women treated as equal with men at that time. But still, STILL those words remain so powerful, SO beautiful.
|Traveling threshing team, c. 1930|
The next president’s quote to be included in the passport is from Theodore Roosevelt, the president that I think of as the adventurer, who traveled across our nation and other countries, as well.
“This is a new nation, based on a mighty continent, of boundless possibilities.”
|U.S. Allies in WWI|
“Whatever America hopes to bring to pass in the world must first come to pass in the heart of America.”
“Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty.”
|Poverty in Appalachian America.|
In 1961 our nation recognized that we were not the champions of the world, but that we believed in our national duty to be a beacon toward liberty for all. There might be more war and we would come together to endure whatever might be required in that pursuit. Liberty must survive! It was the time of the Arms Race; it was the Bay of Pigs. My earliest memories of American national identity were that there were very big and scary people outside our borders that wished Americans harm.
|Kennedy Space Center, Florida|
In 1965, although Lyndon Johnson would never be the charismatic leader that President Kennedy had been, he carried the torch for liberty forward. The 50’s and 60’s were such a tumultuous time. So MUCH was happening so quickly. Johnson’s Great Society domestic programs were put forth in hopes of eliminating poverty and racial injustice. The Civil Rights Movement was a volatile time; tragedies were repeated across the country time and again. Fear and hatefulness drenched our People. We must recognize that large groups of those who were disenfranchised still reside in that unjust place within our borders.
|Full moon over Cuba|
The last quote which I have chosen to include is not from a president. It is by a woman who was born into slavery in 1858 in Raleigh, North Carolina. She was the daughter of an enslaved woman and either the white landowner or his brother. I admit I had no knowledge of this woman before today and a bit of research was required. I admit embarrassment in the fact that I, as a white woman in America, do not know enough about black history in America.
|Alex Haley reading to African American children. |
Statue on Ego Alley, Annapolis, MD
Anna Julia Cooper
This brilliant woman who became a well-educated writer, teacher and activist started life in the most rude of circumstances. She was the offspring of rape by a white (<- power) man (<- power) perpetrated against a woman of color who possessed no rights of citizenship. It would take a war within our country’s borders to tackle citizenship for ALL Americans followed by struggles continuing to the present day. I am glad that her perspective is represented in our passports. A woman with a clear voice, speaking for people of all races, all religions, all political parties and all socioeconomic statuses.
|Church in colonial Hawaii|
And finally, I conclude with a more current quotation from a president. It hasn’t made its’ way into our passports, nor do I think it ever will. I think you will recognize the author immediately.
“It's just fake. It's fake. It's made-up stuff. It's disgraceful what happens, but that happens in the—that happens in the world of politics."
|Wall Street, New York, NY|
Liberty for all
Loyalty and trustworthiness to our allies
Inclusion of all races, religions, thought and class
|Statue of Liberty, New York Harbor|