Who We Are

Tennessee State Bicentennial Poem

LaurelFallsTennessee.jpg

Laurel Falls, Tennessee

Laurel Falls; Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee; photo by John Buie on Flickr (use permitted with attribution).

Who We Are

by Margaret Britton Vaughn

The poem Who We Are by Margaret Britton Vaughn was designated the official bicentennial poem of Tennessee in 1996. "Maggi" is a native of Murfreesboro, Tennessee, and was designated the state's Poet Laureate in 1999.

Who We Are - The Bicentennial of Tennessee 1796-1996:

The fertile soil of Tennessee
Grew more than corn, tobacco, and cotton,
It grew a crop of people who are
Trailblazers, child raisers, flag wavers, soul savers.
Like the roots of the tulip poplar,
Our feet are planted deeply
Into good living, neighbor giving, God fearing.
Like the iris, buttercup and wild daisies,
Our towns have sprung up
In valleys, basins, mountains, plains and plateaus
That house cabins, mansions and hillside chateaus.
We're the one-room schoolhouse in the hollow;
We're the university grad and the front-porch scholar.
We're Davy Crockett at the Alamo,
Sergeant York, World War I hero.
We're Cordell Hull who served Roosevelt;
We're Chief Sequoyah and his Cherokee alphabet.
We're W.C. Handy and the Memphis Blues;
We're Ida B. Wells and Civil Rights news,
And Grand Ole Opry with old wooden pews.
We're "Rocky Top" and "Tennessee Waltz" the same;
We're "Star Spangled Banner" before the game.
We're mockingbirds singing Appalachian folk songs;
We're country church sing-alongs.
We're hand clappers, toe tappers, knee slappers
And Mama's lap lullaby nappers.
We're Jackson, Johnson and James K. Polk;
We're city slickers and poor hill folk;
We're Anne Dallas Dudley and the Suffrage Vote.
We're John Sevier, Don Sundquist and governors galore;
We're congressmen, mayors and Vice President Gore.
We're Wilma Rudolph's run for the gold
And Sunday golfers' eighteenth hole.
We're Christmas Eve and the Fourth of July;
We're 4-H and homemade chess pie.
We're TVA rivers, creeks and man-made lakes;
We're ruts in dirt roads and interstates.
We're all religions, creeds and peoples of race;
We're Tennesseans who love the home place.
We're the Volunteer State and will always be
Ready to go when someone's in need.
As our trees turn green and our barns turn gray.
We celebrate our two hundredth birthday.
We know we've done our best, stood the test,
And will be laid to rest
In the fertile soil of Tennessee.

Tennessee