Our National Anthem, titled "The Star-Spangled Banner", was first recognized for official use by the United States Navy in 1889. It gained great traction during World War One, before eventually being made the official United States National Anthem by Congressional resolution and Presidential signature on March 3, 1931.
A few years later, the Pledge of Allegiance to the United States Flag was officially adopted by the United Sates Congress in the first year of World War Two in 1942.
Little did I know, as this day began, that a third such official expression, called "The American Creed", also exists. I am glad that I have now discovered its existence.
This third expression of American patriotism came about during World War One, when a Maryland man named William Tyler Page won a nationwide 1917 patriotic contest for "the best summary of American political faith founded upon things fundamental in American history and tradition".
Shortly thereafter, on April 3, 1918, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a resolution formally accepting the statement as "The American's Creed".
I thought it appropriate, therefore, to share this official, if little known document from American history with my readers on this special day in which we are celebrating our nation’s independence. Its two short paragraphs clearly remind us what our founding fathers well understood - that human responsibilities are always the source of human rights.
The officially adopted "American Creed" states:
"I believe in the United States of America, as a government of the people, by the people, for the people; whose just powers are derived from the consent of the governed; a democracy in a republic; a sovereign Nation of many sovereign States; a perfect union, one and inseparable; established upon those principles of freedom, equality, justice, and humanity for which American patriots sacrificed their lives and fortunes.
I therefore believe it is my duty to my country to love it, to support its Constitution, to obey its laws, to respect its flag, and to defend it against all enemies."
I, for one, proudly affirm this creed. I hope you do as well.
NOTE: "The American Creed" by William Tyler Page is not to be confused with "An American's Creed" by Dean Alfange. "An American's Creed" (or simply "My Creed"), for the composition of which Alfrange was given an award in 1952 by the Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge, originally appeared in This Week Magazine. A condensed version later appeared in Reader's Digest in both the October 1952 and January 1954 issues. It reads as follows:
"I do not choose to be a common man. It is my right to be uncommon. I seek to develop whatever talents God gave me—not security. I do not wish to be a kept citizen, humbled and dulled by having the state look after me. I want to take the calculated risk; to dream and to build, to fail and to succeed. I refuse to barter incentive for a dole. I prefer the challenges of life to the guaranteed existence; the thrill of fulfillment to the stale calm of utopia. I will not trade freedom for beneficence nor my dignity for a handout. I will never cower before any earthly master nor bend to any threat. It is my heritage to stand erect, proud and unafraid; to think and act myself, enjoy the benefit of my creations and to face the world boldly and say – 'This, with God's help, I have done.' All this is what it means to be an American."