Music transcends barriers of communication and for centuries has been a unifying force capable of expressing common emotion and sentiment when words fail or are impossible to speak. Music has also been an integral part of our military history. Battlefield command signals rose up from the fife and drum. Military bands add pomp and circumstance to special events, and a Bugler sounds Taps for funerals and memorial services. In times of conflict and war, from concentration camps to foxholes, music has provided solace and kept humanity intact.

Indeed it was the joyous voices of children singing on a snowy morning in December last year at Kennebunk High School during the Annual Wreath Escort to Arlington National Cemetery that gave rise to the 2017 Wreaths Across America theme, "I'm an American. Yes I Am!"

“Though it was a snow day for the school, many children still came in to greet us and perform for the escort,” said Karen Worcester, executive director, Wreaths Across America. “As part of their performance, the children sang ‘I’m an American…YES, I am!’ and every single person standing in that auditorium couldn’t help but sing along, cheering and watching in awe as these children beamed with pride. That is what being an American is all about.”

The song, which entwines patriotism and acceptance of differences together, became a favorite of the 2016 Wreaths Across America escort, which included many American Gold Star Mothers, Blue Star families, veterans, and volunteers. The group was touched and inspired by the spirited performance. After their visit, the escort participants found themselves singing the words often throughout their week-long trip down the east coast to Arlington National Cemetery.

Rick Charette wrote, “I’m an American” in 2002 to help kids appreciate the sacrifices women and men have made in protecting the American freedoms that we all enjoy. The inspiration for the song came from his personal feelings on what it means to be American. A former teacher turned singer/songwriter; Charette has been writing and performing for children for the last 30 years.

The patriotism and American pride displayed by the Kennebunk Elementary School (KES) Kid's Chorus were genuine according to school Principal Ryan Quinn, and we only saw a small representation of the group during the visit because of the weather. There are normally 80 students in the group.

"We as a staff believe it's very important to teach about patriotism," Quinn explains. "Each month we have a character trait that we introduce to the students, like courage and honor, and then reinforce those meanings throughout the month. It's important to teach positive values and patriotism is one of them. In the past the kids have sold their artwork and raised money to send five World War II Veterans on the Honor Flight trip, we've sent 500 scarves to soldiers deployed in cold climates throughout the world through Operation Gratitude, and the stop by Wreaths Across America added to the list of wonderful patriotic events for our students."

Wreaths Across America is honored to unite proud and patriotic Americans throughout the nation in our mission to remember, honor, and teach to be sure no hero is ever forgotten.

Maine Singer/Songwriter Rick Charette

Maine Singer/Songwriter Rick Charette

“I’m an American” by Rick Charette

I’m an American. Yes, I am.
I love my country. I love my land.
With you and me together, we each play a part.
We can make a difference with love in our hearts. 

We are many. We are one.
We are shining in the sun.
We’re united standing tall.
With liberty and justice for all.
I’m an American. Yes, I am.
I hold the world’s future here in my hands.
Gonna sing and shout it! It’s great to be free. 
Every single person has dignity.

I’m an American. Yes, I am.
I promise that I will do what I can.
I’ll stand up for freedom. Live my life without fear
Going to make a better world, I know we’ll persevere

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