We are on the doorstep. The Fourth of July and the celebration of Independence Day is almost here. And America remembers!
This is the land of the free and the home of the brave. Truly, we have much for which to be thankful. One of the few legitimate functions of the federal government, as enumerated in the Constitution, is to provide for the common defense. That requirement would lead one to believe that the government will provide the appropriate level of defense and protection from any perceived threats. It was George Washington who said on Jan. 8, 1790 "Among the many interesting objects which will engage your attention, is that of providing for the common defense." And George Washington went on to say: "To be prepared ... is one of the most effectual means of preserving peace."
We believe that American Exceptionalism is unique and is worthy of defending. It is disturbing that a sampling of some of the actions and rhetoric from some of our political leaders today seems to be so heavy in stylistic eloquence but so light in evidentiary substance. There was a time in our nation's history when rhetorical skills, such as used by Abraham Lincoln, John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan, were used to shine light on fundamental truths, but today it appears that rhetorical skills are used to hide from fundamental facts.
The American public is desperately yearning for a sense of national and personal pride and security for themselves and particularly for their children and grandchildren. Playing political games and pandering to the crowd, is far from our national interests. Realistically, what is at stake is the defense of our nation and the hope of security for future generations. These are trying times. It is estimated, by the National Defense Department, that it would take only 33 minutes for a nuclear warhead missile lunched from North Korea to strike a major U.S. city. Yet we are downsizing missile defense; could that be true? This is that time when we need statesmanlike leadership at the top with a steady virtuous hand at the helm. The American public wants a sense of certainty that they are safe in their homes and secure in their way of life in a free and wholesome environment.
There are those voices today, who support appeasement over strength and surrender over vigilance. The U.S. Declaration of Independence states "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal ... with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of happiness. It is a known fact, that many overt plans for an attack on the United States have been foiled because of sound U.S. intelligence. In the past, we owed much to a strengthened terror surveillance program for the foiling of these and other hateful plots. A weakening of these surveillance programs is a serious threat to our safety
To repeat, there are those, to the dismay of many, who support appeasement over strength, surrender over vigilance and the weakening of national defense against fascist terrorists. Think of it, we did not negotiate with the carnage of Hitler's Nazis Germany or with Japan's Hirohito and his attack on the innocent lives at Pearl Harbor. We were determined then, as a people, to defeat the Axis powers. If we had not acted as we did, speculate where might we be today.
But we did act. And a willing and committed people along with statesmanship-like leadership moved forward with a will and a determination to protect the homeland and to preserve freedom for millions. Thanks to the leadership of Franklin Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, Harry Truman and Dwight Eisenhower. And thanks to, to John F. Kennedy during the Cuban missle crisis and Ronald Reagan in his call to Mikhail Gorbachev to "Tear down this wall."
"All of the great leaders have had one characteristic in common: the willingness to confront unequivocally the major anxiety of their people in their time," said liberal economist John Kenneth Galbraith back in 1977.
It is a truism, terrorism thrives when tyrants rule, and moderation is stifled. And we see this being played out today in the tyrannical driven nations of the world.
Sir Winston Churchill said it well when he stated "One ought never to turn one's back on a threatened danger and try to run away from it. If you do that, you will double the danger. But if you meet it promptly and without flinching, you will reduce the danger by half."
This is no time for apologizing for American Exceptionalism or call for moral equivalence, but this is the time for moral clarity. Winston Churchill said it well: "Never flinch, never weary, never despair." Indeed, we are the land of the free because of the BRAVE.
Dr. Robert L. Heichberger is professor emeritus at the State University of New York at Fredonia and distinguished professor at Capella University in Minneapolis. All of the past columns can be viewed on www.fromourperspective.net/ Send comments to: Rheich@aol.com