“The Price of Freedom”
When I was in first grade,
We sang My Country Tis of Thee in music class.
Halfway through class,
Came to the door of our classroom,
And my teacher went to talk that person.
Whoever it was.
Who was it anyway?
We weren’t singing.
We were waiting.
Waiting makes six-year olds antsy.
I crept out of my seat,
To see who it was.
Just then, my teacher returned.
Seeing me out of my seat - half tiptoed -
She flew into a rage.
“You wanna see who’s in the hallway?
Why don’t you go and sit out there?
Take your goddamn time.”
She grabbed my arm
And kicked me out of music class.
As I sat in the hallway,
Tufting the carpet between my fingers,
Listening to my compatriots sing,
I mulled over the words,
“Land where my fathers died,
Land of the pilgrims’ pride,
From ev’ry mountainside
Let freedom ring!”
And I was a little confused,
Because no father of mine had ever died here,
As far as I knew.
I was the first one -
The first American-born American
In my family.
But, I knew I loved this country
More than anyone.
More than that idiot now oppressing my freedom.
Children have the keenest sense of injustice
As you may remember.
So I decided, there in the hallway,
That if it came down to it,
If someone had to die to keep freedom ringing,
If it came to my turn,
I would do it.