I Am an American
by Dr. Elias Lieberman

I am an American.
My father belongs to the Sons of the Revolution;
My mother, to the Colonial Dames.
One of my ancestors pitched tea overboard in Boston Harbor;
Another stood his ground with Warren;
Another hungered with Washington at Valley Forge.
My forefathers were America in the making:
They spoke in her council halls;
They died on her battlefields;
They commanded her ships;
They cleared her forests.
Dawns reddened and paled.
Stanch hearts of mine beat fast at each new star
In the nation's flag.
Keen eyes of mine foresaw her greater glory:
The sweep of her seas,
The plenty of her plains,
The man-hives in her billion-wired cities.
Every drop of blood in me holds a heritage of patriotism.
I am proud of my past.
I am an American.

I am an American.
My father was an atom of dust,
My mother a straw in the wind,
To his serene majesty.
One of my ancestors died in the mines of Siberia;
Another was crippled for life by twenty blows of the knout;
Another was killed defending his home during the massacres.
The history of my ancestors is a trail of blood
To the palace gate of the Great White Czar.
But then the dream came
The dream of America.
In the light of the Liberty torch
The atom of dust became a man
And the straw in the wind became a woman
For the first time.
"See," said my father, pointing to the flag that fluttered near,
"That flag of stars and stripes is yours;
It is the emblem of the promised land,
It means, my son, the hope of humanity.
Live for itódie for it!"
Under the open sky of my new country I swore to do so;
And every drop of blood in me will keep that vow.
I am proud of my future.
I am an American.

Principal Elias Lieberman would write positive messages to the Graduating Class of Thomas Jefferson High School, and these messages would appear in the school yearbook. You can read some of his inspiring messages here.

Principal Elias Lieberman
Thomas Jefferson High School
Brooklyn, New York

Dr. Elias Lieberman, an educator and poet, was born in St. Petersburg, Russia in 1883 and arrived in the United States at the age of seven. He and his family settled in New York City, and Lieberman graduated cum laude from City College in 1903. He received his Ph.D. from New York University in 1911.

He began teaching in elementary schools in 1903. He worked as a teacher for  number of years, and then headed the English Department at Bushwick High School from 1918 to 1924. In 1924, he became the first principal of Thomas Jefferson High School. He held this position until 1940. In 1940, he was appointed Associate Superintendent of Schools, a post he held until his retirement thirteen years later.

Lieberman served as an associate editor, and then editor, of the magazine Puck from 1917-8, and subsequently became literary editor of The American Hebrew journal until 1932. In his retirement, he continued to write poems until his passing on July 13, 1969 at the age of eighty-five.


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