Meadville Tribune

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Opinion

June 30, 2014

It’s hard to imagine living in the U.S. before The American’s Creed

The American’s Creed: “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.”

— by William Tyler Page, written 1917, accepted by the United States House of Representatives on April 3, 1918.


I have read The American’s Creed many times lately. I could not imagine living in the timeframe when this was originally penned in 1917. At the time, the nation was nearing the end of World War I, “the War to End All Wars” as it is often referred to.

My step-grandfather, Joseph Maggio, a World War I veteran and Meadville resident, was the last man of the Last Man’s Club. I had the honor to share the history and story of the Last Man’s Club in a speech years ago during a ceremony for Post 52’s yearly Ride For Freedom.

I was able to learn about a man who fought in World War I, read letters he had written home, hold items he had saved from so long ago; a gas mask, a helmet, his medals. I was blessed to be able to visit our sister city of Fismes, France, a small village that our “boys” helped to liberate during World War I and where the Last Man’s Club was formed. It was quite humbling to say the least.

I have had the honor and distinct pleasure to meet and talk with so many veterans from different eras over the past 10 years of writing these columns. I am often in awe of those I am speaking with, simply for the fact they are sharing stories they may not have shared before, their bravery, of which they would never admit to having, or their struggles upon returning home and not knowing how to fit in anymore.

There is one thing that always stands out to me: the true pride most veterans have serving their country. Whether they were called to do so or volunteered, they raised their right hand and took an oath, knowing full well they were going or could go, into harm’s way, and they did it anyway.

Why do they serve? I’ve not asked many veterans that question. I simply ask, “Would you do it again?” The answer, so far, has been yes, they would do it again.

Which brings me back to The American’s Creed. Read it. Think about the meaning of the words, how passionate they are. William Tyler Page’s The American’s Creed was actually a submission to a nationwide patriotic contest, and this submission was chosen from more than 3,000 other entries.

The history of our country is so interesting if you take the time to read about it, to learn more about the people who had such fire in them to be free and to form a country with strong principles and moral fiber.

You may read this and think our country may not be the best place at times, but to me, I am an American. I fly the American flag proudly in my front yard. I work hard to be an advocate for our veterans. I will never be ashamed to say the Pledge of Allegiance or sing “God Bless America.” I will stand firm in my beliefs that this country is worth fighting for, and I will support those men and women who make up our military. I believe in the Constitution of the United States of America, no matter how many times people may try to change it.

God bless those brave souls who took a stand so long ago, forming the foundation for which our country now stands. That foundation may seem as if it is teetering at times, confusing and maybe even frustrating, but America it makes this nonetheless. I am an American and proud of it.

May God bless America and those who defend her.

Kim Lengling is co-chair of Project Support Our Troops and recently co-founded Embracing Our Veterans, a nonprofit providing referral resources for veterans and their family members. She can be reached at embracingourveterans@gmail.com or (814) 450-0622. To learn more, visit embracingourveterans.org.

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