我们聚集在这里肯定一种信念，一种对共同目的、共同信仰和共同的献身精神的信念。我们中有些人已选定美国作为自己的国家；其它人则是做出这种选择的人的后代。为此原因，我们有权把自己看成是一个经过精选的群体，它的成员勇于同过去决裂，勇于面对在一个陌生国度遇到的危险和孤寂。是什麽目标激励我们或我们的前人做出这一选择的呢? 我们追求自由：不受压迫的自由，免遭贫困的自由，独立自主的自由。我们当时追求这一目标，现在我们相信自己通过奋斗达到了这一目标。当我们说我们首先追求自由的时候，意味着什麽呢? 我经常怀疑，我们是否对宪法、法律和法庭寄予过多的希望。这些是虚幻的希望，真的，这些是虚幻的希望。自由存在于人们的心中；一旦它在人们心中死去，没有任何宪法、法律或法院能拯救它；甚至没有任何宪法、法律或法庭能予给它多大帮助。当自由存在人们心中时，无须宪法、法律或法庭去拯救它。那麽这一必须存活于人们心中的自由究竟是什麽呢? 它不是冷酷无情，不受约束的意志；不是随心所欲的自由。那是对自由的否定，直接导致自由的毁灭。倘若在一个社会中人们不承认对他们的自由应有所控制，那麽它很快会变成一个只让一小撮凶狠残暴的人拥有自由的社会。对这一点我们已有痛苦的教训。
The Spirit of liberty
In the critical year of 1944 a vast “I Am an American Day” ceremony was held in Central Park, New York City, on May 21. Many thousands of people were present, including a large number of new citizens. Learned Hand’s brief address was so eloquent and so moving that the text immediately became the object of wide demand. It was quickly printed and reprinted and also put into anthologies. The impact was so great that the speaker was invited to address a similar gathering the next year.
“We have gathered here to affirm a faith, a faith in a common purpose, a common conviction, a common devotion. Some of us have chosen America as the land of our adoption; the rest have come from those who did the same. For this reason we have some right to consider ourselves a picked group, a group of those who had the courage to break from the past and brave the dangers and the loneliness of a strange land. What was the object that nerved us, or those who went before us, to this choice? We sought liberty; freedom from oppression, freedom from want, freedom to be ourselves. This we then sought; this we now believe that we are by way of winning. What do we mean when we say that first of all we seek liberty? I often wonder whether we do not rest our hopes too much upon constitutions, upon laws and upon courts. These are false hopes; believe me, these are false hopes. Liberty lies in the hearts of men and women; when it dies there, no constitution, no law, no court can even do much to help it. While it lies there it needs no constitution, no law, no court to save it. And what is this liberty which must lie in the hearts of men and women? It is not the ruthless, the unbridled will; it is not freedom to do as one likes. That is the denial of liberty, and leads straight to its overthrow. A society in which men recognize no check upon their freedom soon becomes a society where freedom is the possession of only a savage few; as we have learned to our sorrow.
"What then is the spirit of liberty? I cannot define it; I can only tell you my own faith. The spirit of liberty is the spirit which is not too sure that it is right; the spirit of liberty is the spirit which seeks to understand the mind of other men and women; the spirit of liberty is the spirit which weighs their interests alongside its own without bias; the spirit of liberty remembers that not even a sparrow falls to earth unheeded; the spirit of liberty is the spirit of Him who, near two thousand years ago, taught mankind that lesson it has never learned but never quite forgotten; that there may be a kingdom where the least shall be heard and considered side by side with the greatest. And now in that spirit, that spirit of an America which has never been, and which may never be; nay, which never will be except as the conscience and courage of Americans create it; yet in the spirit of that America which lies hidden in some form in the aspirations of us all; in the spirit of that America for which our young men are at this moment fighting and dying; in that spirit of liberty and of America I ask you to rise and with me pledge our faith in the glorious destiny of our beloved country.”