If I Had Been There
By Karen Thompson

"You have too much at stake to hesitate." -- Thomas Paine,
The Crisis, Number IV, Philadelphia, Sept. 12, 1777

Dressed in morse code, semaphoring
change invested with memory,
I greet the 21st century --
gifted by a spirit of unity from the past
I can admire with only partial comprehension.
When did I ever have to fight:
for the right to speak out,
to write the truth,
to live my life the way I choose?
No barriers litter the branching road
of my choices; no interference blunts
my decisions, right or wrong.
I vote my conscience, but I wonder:
Would I have been willing to risk
the next breath for an idea of freedom?
Would I have joined the fateful actions
of my ancestors – or stood aside
to watch in comparative safety?
The thought of America
(so stunning, so vibrant)
surprises me with its force
unchanged by time, irony,
cynicism, or the debate of honest men.
The truth of what happened
inhabits an energy that resonates
in my heart: That vision,
that America, that beautiful dream.
I like to believe that I would
have loved liberty enough
if I had been there.

Copyright 2000 Karen Thompson

Note from Karen: "If I Had Been There was awarded the Evelyn Cole Peters Poetry Award, the top national literary award of the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution (NSDAR) American Heritage Literature and Drama Contest for 2000. I consider it an honor to have received this award from the NSDAR American Heritage Committee, and I'm very proud to be a member of the NSDAR (and a chapter member of the Joseph McDowell Chapter in Hendersonville, North Carolina -- and to be part of the NSDAR's worthy endeavors on behalf of children and education. If you would like to find out more about the work of the NSDAR in America today, please follow the link below to the Society's home page."

National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution (NSDAR)

[Return to Welcome to K's World ]