The Founding Fathers put together an ingenuous system of government designed to guarantee freedom in this new world, an ocean away from the tyranny of a monarchical regime. It’s been about 250 years since they took a stand against King George III and fought a bloody war to end the servitude they had been born into. None of us can truly imagine the suffering they endured to carve out a sanctuary for themselves and their families and defend it against the British Empire, the dominant military force of its time. For them, it was do or die, inasmuch as such treasonable action was punishable by death. Yet, having experienced the misery of life without freedom, they were willing to make that sacrifice.
With the Virginia House of Burgesses undecided on whether to organize military action against the encroaching British military force, Patrick Henry argued in favor of mobilization and ended his speech with words that have since become immortalized: “Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty, or give me death!”
Those words have echoed through the canyons of time, reminding generation after generation of the hardships endured to build a new nation, under God, with liberty and justice for all. Nevertheless, it seems that millions of Americans have become filled with the fetid odor of cynicism, cavalierly dismissing the courageous struggle that built the foundation for the prosperity they now take for granted. Academics, schooled in theoretical concepts, engage in self-indulgent debate, seeking to find moral equivalence between past and present.
As a Socratic exercise, it may have merit, but as a blueprint for the preservation of freedom and the destiny of a nation, it has no relevance. This experiment in democracy wasn’t charted by perfect people; they were a motley combination of practitioners in many fields of endeavor. But the common thread in their DNA was an indomitable spirit and a passionate thirst for freedom. That thirst, quenched for hundreds of millions during the last couple of centuries, is being challenged in retrospect, by the ungrateful heirs of those patriots. Some burn our flag, the symbol of liberty, while conveniently refusing to acknowledge that the freedom to do so is part of their ancestral heritage.
Others find fault with the former slaveholders among those early founding members, referring to them as a bunch of old, bigoted white men. Such rhetoric is merely a sophomoric attempt to juxtapose the cultural norms of vastly different eras. With food on your table and clothes on your back, it’s easy to have an intellectual debate on the methods used to forge a civilization out of a savage wilderness. Thanks to those early crafters of this republic; the many statesmen who followed them; and the millions of decent, hardworking citizens who contributed to the effort, we are still the most coveted piece of real estate on the planet. We don’t build walls to keep people in, but if we are to continue enjoying the bountiful lifestyle we’ve earned, we must build walls to keep them out.
In pragmatic terms, the United States is a lifeboat with a limited capacity to rescue the multitudes from a raging sea. The more humanity we take on board, the more water will fill our boat, weighing it down precipitously toward an ultimate capsize. We can reach out in heartfelt sympathy to the floundering masses, but at some point, we must recognize that one more passenger may take us all down to a watery grave. The average person dares not contemplate making a decision of such magnitude. Nevertheless, in the interest of rational thought, someone must!
Few people are old enough to remember the mood of the country during World War 2, but America’s sentiments can be readily understood by viewing the movies made during the war against the Axis powers in Europe. Even during the ’50s, a decade after the troops were back home, the films continued to portray the greatness of our country and its fight for freedom around the world. It was a time of John Wayne, James Stewart, and Betty Grable, major stars whose patriotism was self-evident in the roles they played and the additional time they spent supporting the troops.
It was a time when families prayed together and proudly displayed flags in front of their homes to show their love of the country and their support of the men in uniform. Legendary comedian Bob Hope was entertaining the troops at military bases around the world, accompanied by other major Hollywood celebrities. It was a time in our history when we knew the good guys from the bad guys.
It was the time of heroes! However, since the turbulent 60s, with its anti-American rhetoric and its drug-induced revolution against propriety, we have witnessed an erosion of values that has sought to turn religion into a prohibited practice and patriotism into a foolish philosophy engaged only by fascists. In other words, we’re told to disregard the noble history, religious principles, and traditions, which were the building blocks of this great republic, and replace them with bitterness and scorn for those who created the foundation that made our country the envy of the world. If we fall for such a colossal con job, we are too stupid and ungrateful to assert any claim to the DNA of the Founding Fathers.