Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Ideals of America, 2009

Lots of friends and acquaintances have been asking this week what I would be writing about the Mark Sanford affair. They know, as most of my readers do, that I have been a Sanford critic for a number of years, and, in fact, ran the 2006 campaign of Sanford’s Republican primary challenger, Oscar Lovelace. (That’s possibly the reason Sanford called me “creepy” at a press conference last year.) Regular readers of this column are also aware of my unofficial advisory role to Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer, as well as having served as campaign manager for Senator Jake Knotts, another key figure in the ongoing Sanford saga.

Suffice it to say that, yes, I could write an interesting and informative column about the Mark Sanford affair. But I’m not going to, because there are approximately 10,000 other newspapers taking care of that business.

Frankly, I’m more interested in this week’s celebration of America’s birthday… Independence Day… the day the Declaration of Independence was signed, which led to a Constitution giving all these newspapers the right to freely comment on the Sanford affair, and all Americans the right to express their individual opinions on the matter.

So, instead of piling on, I’ve decided to reprint my column from July 4th, two years ago, to commemorate the set of ideals – freedom, liberty, and equal justice -- which are obviously still alive and well in America:


“When in the course of Human Events…”

So begins the Declaration of Independence, to document which declared the creation of the United States of America, the signing of which on July 4th, 1776, is the date we celebrate as our national holiday of patriotism.

It’s no accident, I think, that our national day of celebration commemorates a document, rather than the end or beginning of any battle or war, or any military victory, or any national incident. To be sure, there are many other dates which will, indeed, live in infamy or be cause for perpetual celebration. But the single day we have chosen to celebrate Americanism is the day the ideas on which our nation was created were signed into effect with a single declaration.

We celebrate words -- not battles, not royal bloodlines, not military might -- because words convey ideas... and America is a nation founded on a set of ideas: freedom, liberty, justice, equality, and opportunity. These ideas, represented by written words, created the foundation on which our way of life has been built.

Because our American Way of Life is built on a set of ideas/ideals, and because I’m pretty sure we ALL take these ideals pretty much for granted on a daily basis – and it would probably be a good thing if we reminded ourselves of them from time to time -- I thought I would commemorate this July 4th by offering a bit of a quiz on some of the Words of Patriotism we have come to cherish.

Below, I’ve listed twelve patriotic phrases. Your job is to identify where each phrase comes from. These correct answers are at the end.

Here we go…

Patriotic Phrase #1: “We the people of the United States….”

Patriotic Phrase #2: “The land of the free, and the home of the brave”.

Patriotic Phrase #3: “WE hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are
created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness”

Patriotic Phrase #4: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free….”

Patriotic Phrase #5: “One nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all”.

Patriotic Phrase #6: “Proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof.”

Patriotic Phrase #7: “Crown thy good with brotherhood from sea to shining sea”.

Patriotic Phrase #8: “ … no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances”.

Patriotic Phrase #9: “Stand beside her and guide her through the night with the light from above.”

Patriotic Phrase #10: “We mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor”.

Patriotic Phrase #11: “A new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal”.

Patriotic Phrase #12: “Secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity”.

How did you do? Here are the answers: 1. Preamble of the Constitution; 2. The National Anthem (The Star Spangled Banner); 3. The Declaration of Independence; 4. Inscription of the Statue of Liberty; 5. The Pledge of Allegiance; 6. Inscription of the Liberty Bell (we would also accept Leviticus 25:10); 7. America, the Beautiful; 8. The First Amendment (or The Bill of Rights); 9. God Bless America; 10. The Declaration of Independence, again! 11. Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address; 12. Preamble of the Constitution, again.

Hope you have a safe and happy Independence Day. And as we all celebrate freedom, let’s please keep our fighting men and women in our thoughts and prayers. God Bless America.

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