Here is the poem I spoke of earlier. It appears in Richard John Neuhaus's American Babylon. Striking a balance between the devotion we celebrate today and the heartbreak we feel as pilgrims on a separate course, the poem upholds what is good even as he remembers our national failures. The poet, Richard Wilbur, does not mention all evils that we have inflicted on ourselves, of course, but the salvage can be applied to each.
"Whose minds went dark at the edge of a field,
In the muck of a trench, on the beachhead sand,
In a blst amidships, a burst in the air ....
Grieve for the ways in which we betrayed them,
How we robbed their graves of a reason to die:
The tribes pushed west, and the treaties broken,
The image of God on the auction block,
The Immigrant scorned, and the striker beaten.
The vote denied to liberty's daughters ....
From all that has shamed us, what can we salvage?
Be proud at least that we know we were wrong,
That we need not lie, that our books are open,
Praise to this land for our power to change it,
To confess our misdoings, to mend what we can,
To learn what we mean and make it the law,
To become what we said we were going to be."
Today, remind yourself and your families of what we said we were going to be.