This Land is Your Land

We have all heard the folk song with its famous first verse …

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.

Woody Guthrie wrote this song in 1940 as a counter to Irvin Berlin’s God Bless America for which Guthrie thought was “unrealistic, complacent and over-played”. Most people do not know of the two verses removed from the song as we normally hear it and sing along. Yet, these verses were part of the original song Woody Guthrie wrote so many years ago.

As I try to comprehend our Presidential Election results of yesterday and the ramifications for our future, I search out these forgotten lyrics of this great American song and see both sides of our divided Country.

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.

People want change and far better results from our government. The “No Trespassing” sign no longer holds people back. Indeed, yesterday in mass, people walked to the other side and saw the place made for … for you and me? I think not. Sadly, our divisions are strong and our new President is not one to bring us all together and assure there is a place for you and me. We shall see, but past behavior is a good indication of future behavior.

The second lost verse goes deeper to the issue of what makes a Country great, or still searching.

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?

I am a Democrat. I believe in Government’s role to serve all people, immigrant and native-born. Shelter, nourishment and yes, healthcare for all. Woody Guthrie saw the beauty in our Country and the hard work that was still needed to make us great. He ended that last forgotten verse with a question, the only question in the song.

Is this land made for you and me?

After a day of shock and dismay, I realize that the answer to this question is not so simple for my Country. My answer is yes.

Are you with me? The fight is only beginning.

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.


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