Don Woodard: As England eyes independence, we treasure ours

When in the days leading up to the Fourth of July I consider the turmoil and agony which England is experiencing in its attempt to free itself from the inhibiting shackles of the European Union, I borrow from the two Henrys – van Dyke and Longfellow – to express my gratefulness to live in America the Beautiful, the last best hope of earth.

‘Tis fine to see the Old World, and travel up and down

Among the famous palaces and cities of renown,

To admire the crumbly castles and the statues of the kings,

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But now I think I’ve had enough of antiquated things.

So it’s home again, and home again, America for me!

My heart is turning home again, and there I long to be,

In the land of youth and freedom beyond the ocean bars,

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Where the air is full of sunlight and the flag is full of stars.

Oh, London is a man’s town, there’s power in the air;

And Paris is a woman’s town, with flowers in her hair;

And it’s sweet to dream in Venice, and it’s great to study Rome,

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But when it comes to living, there is no place like home.

I like the German fir-woods, in green battalions drilled;

I like the gardens of Versailles with flashing fountains filled;

But, oh, to take your hand, my dear, and ramble for a day

In the friendly western woodland where Nature has her way!

I know that Europe’s wonderful, yet something seems to lack!

The Past is too much with her, and the people looking back.

But the glory of the Present is to make the Future free,

We love our land for what she is and what she is to be.

Oh, it’s home again, and home again, America for me!

I want a ship that’s westward bound to plow the rolling sea,

To the blessed Land of Room Enough beyond the ocean bars,

Where the air is full of sunlight and the flag is full of stars.

– Henry van Dyke

Sail on O Ship of State!

Sail on O Union strong and great.

Humanity with all its fears,

With all its hopes for future years,

Is hanging breathless on thy fate.

– Henry W. Longfellow

Don Woodard is a Fort Worth businessman and author of Black Diamonds! Black Gold! The Saga of Texas Pacific Coal and Oil Company.