ELDER PATRIOT – As we pause to celebrate the Fourth of July one is given to asking if this generation of Americans is worthy of the sacrifices that were made over our country’s history that built that once “shining city on a hill.” Or, have we become so obsessed with political correctness that it now trumps individual freedom and truth? Do the current wave of immigrants even know the significance of the day?
American immigrants of pre-revolutionary American were motivated by wholly different ideals than those arriving today. They left their homes without expectation of government aid, seeking only to be free to pursue the lives they desired. An overwhelming percentage sought asylum from the religious persecution they suffered in their home countries, their convictions so strong that they were undeterred by the tremendous adversities of the voyage they faced and the knowledge that their arrival would not be met with a warm bed or even a roof to welcome them.
Their religious convictions and bravery proved to be a common thread that, woven together, created the culture that led to America’s growth to greatness.
The first settlers banded together in communal arrangements with their society more resembling a socialist arrangement than any other. It soon became obvious that most participants in these communes only did enough work to continue get the benefits that the rest of the group provided. Eventually, these fiercely independent souls cast this socialist system aside and the roots of America’s future greatness were planted.
So full of religious conviction and the bravery it fosters were these American ancestors that they were able to win a war of independence against the strongest military power in the world at that time.
In 1787 post-revolutionary America our Founders came together at a great Constitutional Convention to create a document that would protect the freedoms of religious worship and economic opportunity. The Framers were not religious fanatics but they believed in a righteous God.
Ben Franklin, certainly not the most religious of the participants at the Convention summed up his thoughts:
“If people are so bad having a religion, what would they be without it?”
Our first president, George Washington was a learned man with the self-confidence that comes from having successfully led a rag-tag group of volunteers against the well-funded British army in our Revolutionary War. With this history to shape him, and with 8 years of the presidency behind him, Washington could well have rejected the notion that religion played more than a passing importance to our American government and our national success. Instead, he left us with these words as he exited public life:
“Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of man and citizens. The mere politician, equally with the pious man, ought to respect and to cherish them. A volume could not trace all their connexions with private and public felicity. Let it simply be asked, Where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths, which are the instruments of investigation in Courts of Justice?
And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle. It is substantially true, that virtue or morality is a necessary spring of popular government. The rule, indeed, extends with more or less force to every species of free government. Who, that is a sincere friend to it, can look with indifference upon attempts to shake the foundation of the fabric?”
(Source: George Washington, Address of George Washington, President of the United States . . . Preparatory to His Declination (Baltimore: George and Henry S. Keatinge), pp. 22-23. In his Farewell Address to the United States in 1796.)
That today’s Americans – legal and illegal – don’t know this history and are not guided by it is sad. That we have allowed our elected leaders to reject it is unconscionable.