Fourth of July is right around the corner, and although it is going to be a fabulous long weekend with fireworks, parades, barbecues, carnivals, fairs, picnics, concerts, family reunions, etc., it should also be a day to remember the men and women who fought for our independence, freed us from foreign powers, and allowed us to become the country we are today. On this day, commemorate the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776.
Independence Day is the most important national holiday of the United States. It is a federal holiday and many politicians make it a point on this day to appear at a public event to praise the nation’s heritage, laws, history, society and people.
Independence day celebrations are often accompanied by patriotic songs such as the national anthem “The Star-Spangled Banner,” “God Bless America,” “America the Beautiful,” “My Country, ‘Tis of Thee,” “This Land Is Your Land,” “Stars and Stripes Forever,” “Yankee Doodle” and “Dixie.”
But why not also celebrate the holiday with poetry? Here are five poems perfect to celebrate the 4th of July.
The New Colossus. By Emma Lazarus
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame, With conquering limbs astride from land to land; Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame. “Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
America. By Claude McKay
Although she feeds me bread of bitterness, And sinks into my throat her tiger’s tooth, Stealing my breath of life, I will confess I love this cultured hell that tests my youth. Her vigor flows like tides into my blood, Giving me strength erect against her hate, Her bigness sweeps my being like a flood. Yet, as a rebel fronts a king in state, I stand within her walls with not a shred Of terror, malice, not a word of jeer. Darkly I gaze into the days ahead, And see her might and granite wonders there, Beneath the touch of Time’s unerring hand, Like priceless treasures sinking in the sand.
I Hear America Singing. By Walt Whitman
I hear America singing, the varied carols I hear, Those of mechanics, each one singing his as it should be blithe and strong, The carpenter singing his as he measures his plank or beam, The mason singing his as he makes ready for work, or leaves off work, The boatman singing what belongs to him in his boat, the deckhand singing on the steamboat deck, The shoemaker singing as he sits on his bench, the hatter singing as he stands, The wood-cutter’s song, the ploughboy’s on his way in the morning, or at noon intermission or at sundown, The delicious singing of the mother, or of the young wife at work, or of the girl sewing or washing, Each singing what belongs to him or her and to none else, The day what belongs to the day—at night the party of young fellows, robust, friendly, Singing with open mouths their strong melodious songs.
Good Night. By Carl Sandburg
Many ways to say good night. Fireworks at a pier on the Fourth of July spell it with red wheels and yellow spokes. They fizz in the air, touch the water and quit. Rockets make a trajectory of gold-and-blue and then go out. Railroad trains at night spell with a smokestack mushrooming a white pillar. Steamboats turn a curve in the Mississippi crying a baritone that crosses lowland cottonfields to razorback hill. It is easy to spell good night. Many ways to spell good night.
Cooperation. By J. Mason Knox
It ain’t the guns nor armament, Nor funds that they can pay, But the close co-operation, That makes them win the day. It ain’t the individual, Nor the army as a whole, But the everlasting team-work Of every bloomin’ soul.