This song has been on my mind a lot lately — not just the verses they teach in elementary school, but all the verses. It strikes me that this song, in many ways, speaks to the heart of the divide in this country. If you believe that America is for all — that the promise and dream and hope of what this country can be is meant for all who live here, then I don’t know how you aren’t horrified by the actions of America’s current government. If you don’t believe that the dream of America is for everyone, then you probably want to make sure that you and your family get yours and that the easiest way to do that is to make sure that the door slams shut in front of anyone who isn’t already here or who already hasn’t gotten their piece of the pie — and if those folks happen to be black or brown or Muslim or Jewish, well, they aren’t the folks America was built for anyway.

To say that this country is flawed is to state the obvious. To say that we started this country with a beautiful dream and then immediately defined who would have access to that dream and who would not is to simply acknowledge history.

But this country’s history is also filled with those who have fought to make the best parts of America’s dream a reality for a greater number of people. A nation born of promise has seen generation after generation of activists fight to make that promise a reality — to hold America to its best ideals, not the worst of its sins.

Today is a difficult day for a lot of folks in America. For while we can celebrate the best of what we are, it is important for us to also recognize all the work we have left to do — and how hard that work feels in this particular moment in time.

But the legacy of activism and struggle for equal rights, for equal opportunity, for the very recognition of shared humanity is as much a part of our country’s history as anything you may find in the history books. And today is a great day to remind ourselves that this is the nation of Woody Guthrie and Upton Sinclair, of Harriet Tubman and Nat Turner, and of the activists of today who believe in the idea that we can be a more far more perfect union than we are today.

I believe in that more perfect union. I believe that is what Woody Guthrie wrote about when he penned This Land is Your Land. And I hope – because I still hope – that we can understand that everyone deserves a chance to walk that freedom highway.

Happy 4th of July. May we live up to the best ideals of our nation.

This land is your land This land is my land
From California to the New York island;
From the red wood forest to the Gulf Stream waters
This land was made for you and Me.

As I was walking that ribbon of highway,
I saw above me that endless skyway:
I saw below me that golden valley:
This land was made for you and me.

I’ve roamed and rambled and I followed my footsteps
To the sparkling sands of her diamond deserts;
And all around me a voice was sounding:
This land was made for you and me.

When the sun came shining, and I was strolling,
And the wheat fields waving and the dust clouds rolling,
As the fog was lifting a voice was chanting:
This land was made for you and me.

As I went walking I saw a sign there
And on the sign it said “No Trespassing.”
But on the other side it didn’t say nothing,
That side was made for you and me.

In the shadow of the steeple I saw my people,
By the relief office I seen my people;
As they stood there hungry, I stood there asking
Is this land made for you and me?

Nobody living can ever stop me,
As I go walking that freedom highway;
Nobody living can ever make me turn back
This land was made for you and me.