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What makes a nation's pillars high And it's 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.
--Ralph Waldo Emerson
"Ralph Waldo Emerson (May 25, 1803 – April 27, 1882) was an American essayist, lecturer, and poet, who led the Transcendentalist movement of the mid-19th century. He was seen as a champion of individualism and a prescient critic of the countervailing pressures of society, and he disseminated his thoughts through dozens of published essays and more than 1,500 public lectures across the United States.