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A Nation's Strength

  by Ralph Waldo Emerson

What makes a nation's pillars high
And its foundations strong?
What makes it mighty to defy
The foes that round it throng?

It is not gold. Its kingdoms grand Go down in battle shock; Its shafts are laid on sinking sand, Not on abiding rock.

Is it the sword? Ask the red dust Of empires passed away; The blood has turned their stones to rust, Their glory to decay.

And is it pride? Ah, that bright crown Has seemed to nations sweet; But God has struck its luster down In ashes at his feet.

Not gold but only men can make A people great and strong; Men who for truth and honor's sake Stand fast and suffer long.

Brave men who work while others sleep, Who dare while others fly... They build a nation's pillars deep And lift them to the sky.

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