Click on the Stanyan logo to subscribe to the McKuen Mailing List

Photo by Bob Gentry ©2001 Stanyan Entertainment

A Thought for Today

There is no greater gift to the ages than fighting and dying for liberty.


As The Memorial Day Weekend ends we pause to celebrate the shortened lives and extraordinary service to this country of the women and men who fell on behalf of our nation and our form of democracy. We cannot thank or appreciate them enough. At the very least their sacrifices should remind all of us that we can never take freedom and democracy for granted.

RM 5/27/2001 Previously unpublished

"Live at the Lensic" benefit appearance in Santa Fe just announced.

Booking for "An Evening with Rod McKuen" at the Riverton Rendezvous is open! Click below for more details:

Concert & Appearance Details

notable birthdays


Patch Adams o Carroll Baker o Jeannie Carson o Brandon Cruz o The Dionne Quintuplets o Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau o Ian Fleming o John Fogerty o Ed Gaylord o Rudolph Giuliani o Beth Howland o Gladys Knight o Sondra Locke o Kylie Minogue o Thomas Moore o Glen Rice o May Swenson o Jim Thorpe o Billy Vera o T. Bone Walker

A very special Happy Birthday wish to my next door neighbor and friend, the talented actress Sally Forrest.

Rod's random thoughts A leaf of grass is that most fragile thing that always points toward the stars.

We the people make up as many valid beliefs as there are people.

What often appears as phenomena is often only our own unwillingness to understand.


Out of oppression into freedom.
Out of constraint into expansion.
Out of the reading of history
into the making of history.
Out of iron shackles into producing iron.
Out of the man at the foot of the thinker
emerges the thinker himself.
Out of the bonds of forced religion
into the makings of new religions.
Out of the land cordoned off by the King
into the free and open country.
Out of weakness confirmed by labor
into strength produced by labor.
Out of the darkness into light.

Out of the rigid handed-down law
into the making of laws that are workable.
Out of the woods that has no clearing
into the clearing of woods.
Out from under the ruling class
into the class that rules itself.
Out of generations of sorrow
into generations of joy.
Out of poverty into pride.
Out of slavery into ownership.
Out of the scourge of being victim
into the role of benevolent victor.
Out of the galley and into the gallery.
Out of the twilight, free in the midnight.

Out of the mothers who mourned for their sons
now come the women at morning’s first sunlight.
Out of the fathers who died in the struggle
now come the struggling founding fathers.
Out of the lands where sons played on cobblestones
into the country where sons turn the earth.
Out of the breath of daughters who died
in the bed of the serf, at the hand of pestilence,
a new generation of daughters with pride.
Out of the neighborhood bent with hunger
onto the block with belly full.
Out of the dungeon into the daylight.
Out of the need to gorge, into the need to give.
Out of the mineshaft into the air.

Away from the path that persecutes patriots
onto the highway that patriots paved.
Free from restraints of knowing yourself
finding how much of yourself you can know.
Released from the shackles of building for others
learning the craft of building for you.
No more apples from the barrel’s black bottom
only the fruit from the green apple tree.
The demons dreamed up by the weak and afraid
give way to the dreamer controlling his dream
setting in motion his wide-awake visions
molding the axle to turn every wheel.
Out of the way of the sword and the shield.
Out of the well and into the water.

So came the foreigner, soon to be friend.
So came the misused, soon to be unified.
So came the lovers to beget generations.
So came the ill, soon to be well.
So came the indolent, to work for themselves.
So came the convicts, soon unchained.
So came the pilgrims, soon to be pioneers.
So came the builders, to carve a new country.
So came the hungry, to fill up their bellies.
So came the ignorant, soon to be learning.
So came the believer, allowed his beliefs.
So came the thinkers, to study freedom.
So came the leaderless, soon to be leaders.
So came the few, soon to be many.

Speeches delivered, started the history.
Songs were passed round, till they were anthems.
Spread was the word that became fair law.
Swingers of axes cleared out the underbrush.
Soil was turned over for field and for garden.
Sown were seeds, healthily harvested.
Smiles were fence posts before there were fences.
Sailors sailed in on tides of tomorrow.
Sorrow was turned into joy by the neighbor.
Silence was broken by the splitting of rails.
Still in its infancy the nation was growing.
Soon men of principle drafted a paper,
providing the land with its first constitution,
stamped by the seal of brotherhood’s hands.

And pilgrim’s pride and father’s pride
pride of the mother made the child proud.
More than the word was the will and wonder
as each set of eyes set a goal for itself.
As each one prayed to his own God privately,
man and his family stretched out and grew.
He dug up the valleys and planted the corn,
sliced off the mountaintops and dug out coal,
loaded the flatcars that rolled to the cities
and damned up the waterways till there was power,
stretched out the cable and strung up the lights.
Pride was the tool that powered our progress,
need the dividing point sectioned the land.
Love the explainer, settling arguments.

The land of giants was ground out of greatness,
and built on a firmer foundation of rock.
Each pioneer’s progress and each of his setbacks,
each war and peace and each war again,
people not born, those knocked down by death
those who came here to find life and living,
those whom we captured and those we set free,
those who died defending the nation
and those we defended who couldn’t be saved.
All of us still in Whitman’s old cradle
endlessly rocking, endlessly rocking
still in the morning of life as we know it,
still looking up to the forehead of freedom
above and beyond our forefather’s knee.

This is the country, this is the place
all men of wisdom, worry and want
look to for freedom and freedom they see.

-from “The Power Bright & Shining,” 1980

© 1971, 1980, 2001 by Stanyan Music Group & Rod McKuen. All Rights Reserved
Birthday research by Wade Alexander o Poetry from the collection of Jay Hagan o Coordinated by Melinda Smith
Want to comment on today's Flight Plan?
Send e-mail to Rod McKuen or post a message at the Rod McKuen Message Center
home page   today's flight plan   flight plan archives   search this site   site map