International Writing Contest
Washington, Jefferson, Roosevelt and Lincoln:
Presidents with Visions for America
If they could speak
Celestial Conversation: (all 4 presidents)
Reclining comfortably on a cloud, four famous faces of Mt. Rushmore faced each other. George Washington had acquired a positively dour appearance, "Look what they've done to our Presidency, Gentlemen. They have turned it into a den of liars and cheats. Honesty, integrity, even basic decency are foreign to them."
Abraham Lincoln removed his stovepipe hat, bowed his head and sadly added, "And I dedicated my life to freeing the slaves, only to see so many of their descendants dealing drugs and shooting each other on the streets. They have turned our cities into battlegrounds where those who try to lead worthwhile lives must live in fear."
Thomas Jefferson nodded stoicly, "They have taken our Constitution and bastardized it. The very rights we tried to guaranty are eroding daily. Those words were written as the foundation of the country. Now they have been so convoluted they mean nothing."
Teddy Roosevelt raised his cane, shaking it in the air, and declared, "Bull, the American people will not see their freedom destroyed! They will take their country back from the corrupt politicians, the anarchists, the gangsters, and the fools! Like the Phoenix, America will rise from the ashes and reclaim its heritage!"
Lincoln's Mount Rushmore Address
My Fellow Countrymen:
Six score and seventeen years ago, I stood humbly before you, and spoke about the importance of honoring the causes for which so many of our brave soldiers fought; and gave their lives during the Civil War. I asked for your cooperation in striving to achieve lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations. I join you today, to commend the American people on their many accomplishments since that grievous time. My fellow presidents and I have gazed down in wonder over the years; and marveled at the great innovativeness of our countrymen. What we could only dream of, you have achieved! Perhaps no time in history has there been such a diverse and educated group of citizens representing our beautiful United States. It is with glad hearts that we see a nation where people of all races can receive a quality education and vote; a nation where people live in peace, and freedom of speech and religion are practiced freely. With great pride I stand before you, and dedicate this millenium "to the spirit of the American people". May this nation continue to prosper and persevere throughout the 21st century and beyond.
Anita Schoniger, Spearfish, SD
"I Stand Corrected" (Lincoln)
As those of you who know me well are already aware, I take extreme care in choosing my words whenever the occasion arises to speak in public. For indeed, I do not like to be misunderstood or misrepresented in even the smallest of details.
You also know that I have always expressed my willingness to stand corrected once I discover that I have made public statements which later prove erroneous in part or whole. Accordingly,
I must admit that nearly seven score years ago, I erred on a matter of no small concern. I now endeavor to expose the erroneous statement uttered on that honorable occasion, so as to arrest its further spread and place it where the public mind shall rest in the belief that it is in the course of ultimate extinction. It is altogether fitting and proper that I should do this.
On November 19,1863 at Gettysburg, I prophesied that "the world will little note nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here." I was wrong. My words have indeed been remembered down to the latest generation. I therefore stand corrected, trusting the better angels of your nature to forgive such error.
Nancy Lee Chavez, Flushing, New York
A Promise of Freedom: (Jefferson)
"I have sworn upon the altar of God eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of men."
These words are my promise, kept sacred even as I am held within this rockface, Mount Rushmore, so you may know the timeless nature of our greater quest for freedom. Your era is so different from my own the mind encounters so much complication and more subtle snares but our struggle for freedom remains. I ask that you not ease into a labyrinth of injustice by convenience or ignorance and know the tales of my companions, those you chose to preside over you . For in bravery these leaders unshackled men and woman, taking them from tyranny and giving to them voices and liberty. These men, your leaders, undertook profound deeds, but more deeds are needed to vanquish the tyranny of today that reigns by injustice in hunger, in health, in home, and in equality. Men and woman wait even today for their freedom of mind. We are here, my fellow Presidents and I, as ageless faces set in stone. We were chiseled in a beautiful land as a reminder that freedom can never be in name only. Let us insure this.
Everett Meyer, Los Altos, CA
The Voice: (Jefferson)
Though the quickness of time has changed, the speed of
thought has not, nor has man's ancient heart altered its
impermeable structure. Man therefore, as a creature
continues to be man, and the voice of man yet calls from the
mountain of his nature, and the valley of his thoughts. The
task seems still before us to raise our darkened yet fertile
valleys to the illumined peak of enlightenment. Let us hold
this task before one another that as a nation we may embody
mans highest principles which supercede the pages of
history and all leaps of technology and industry. In its
Constitution, United States has beneath it a foundation of
steel that cannot be broken. Yet a great sword can only be
wielded by a great soul. Each citizen of this nation is
responsible for his or her own personal greatness, and this
prized responsibility can never be shared regardless of age,
race, gender or wealth. Turn therefore your eyes inward to
your darkest places and bring there light, for in the
caverns of iniquity you will find the hidden treasure of
purity which confounds forever the elements that erode a
John T. Clark, Cocoa Beach, FL
BE WATCHFUL: (Jefferson)
Never has it been so within the grasp of man to secure what in 1816 I declared to be the four cardinal principles of society - Liberty, Truth, Probity and Honour, not just for the few and the rich alone but for all. In 1821 I stated that time changes manners and notions but it can also corrupt, so it is necessary to be ever watchful.
Society has changed so much since those times, particularly in the areas of science, technology and global unity, as to enable the better advancement of these principles. However, the pursuit of vast richess now available appears to have also advanced notions of economic rationalism above the innate sense of justice and the watchfulness needed to maintain a fair balance between the advantaged and disadvantaged which I perceived as necessary to secure these principles.
I exhort all Governments to remember my words: "Retrace our steps to regain the road which leads to peace, liberty and safety." In so doing, it is my belief that the world may achieve good government by and for all peoples which will secure for them equal rights and happiness and maintain "hostility against tyranny over the mind of man" by education.
Laurence P. O'Brien, Newcastle, Australia
A New Roommate: (all 4 presidents)
Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln and Roosevelt were talking at Mount Rushmore.
Washington started, saying "Tom and I were talking about inviting someone to stay up here with us. He could use that room at the end of the hall. What do you think?"
"Well I think that is a right dandy idear." Teddy spoke up first "Whut bout you, Abe?"
"That sounds like a good idea, but don't we have another room for him to use. That one is so drafty" Lincoln added.
"We could invite Clinton, I hear he's good at avoiding the draft" said Washington.
"How about that Kennedy guy" Jefferson said.
"No he would have to many loud parties. We would never get any sleep" Lincoln added, "maybe we could invite President Haig.
"Wait, he wasn't a president" Teddy said
"That's not what he told me"
"Hey, I betcha my cousin Franklin would come up heer" Teddy said, "He really did a lot fer this country whut with that depression and war n all"
"That's the best idea yet." said Washington "You can send the invitation. I'll get some wood to build a ramp so he can get his chair up here. I think we should use cherry"
Steven E. Gruber, Columbus, Ohio
In this time, when there are so many challenges facing us, we must always remember respect. Respect for our fellow man, our country and our land. We, as a nation, have been blessed with many beautiful things...beautiful landscapes, with all the colors of the rainbow, beautiful people encompassing every shade of humanity and a beautiful heritage to draw upon. We must respect our land, our people and their traditions. Only when we learn to accept things as they are and stop trying to make them what we desire will we learn to live in harmony...with nature, with our past and with one another.
Cindy Graham, Florissant, MO
In the Voice of George Washington
Honored though I am to be here on this great Shrine of Democracy in the pride-filled state of South Dakota, I know I only represent the legions who. through great personal sacrifice, brought forth this wondrous nation, this testament to the one privilege we cherish above all else, our freedom. Today, many of you revere us, the founding fathers, as though we were more than mortal. We were not. Indeed, we were very mortal, and many dies to prove the point. I would prefer we be remembered as ordinary people who accomplished the extraordinary. It makes our feats, thereby, all the more remarkable. We succeeded, not so much by brilliance, but by inspiration and by devotion to our deeple held ideals.
We set our goals high, beyond our grasp. Complete freedom is not reached without equality and that is not achieved for all by any single act, by signing any document or winning any war. It evolves with time, by changing people's hearts and minds. We knew that then, and you should know it now. Reaching equality is not a goal, but a process. We left you with the inspiration. And now it's your turn to strive for it.
Easton Cross, Portland, Oregon