“Governments are only good when the people are good. As founding father John Adams observed, ‘Our constitution was made for a moral people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.'” (William J. Federer)
In between the barbecues, fireworks, and family fun, I’m feeling in my soul the need to talk with my children about the gritty foundational beginnings of this great country, and the incredible people and sacrifices that dug the footings.
As historian David McCullough says, “Very often we are taught history as if it were predetermined… We think that there had to have been a Revolutionary War, that there had to have been a Declaration of Independence, that there had to have been a Constitution, but never was that so. In history, chance plays a part again and again. Character counts over and over. Personality is often the determining factor in why things turn out the way they do. Furthermore, nobody ever lived in the past. Jefferson, Adams, George Washington—they didn’t walk around saying, ‘Isn’t this fascinating living in the past?’ They were living in the present, just as we do. The great difference is that it was their present, not ours …And if we love our country—if we love the blessings of a society that welcomes free speech, freedom of religion, and, most important of all, freedom to think for ourselves—then surely we ought to know how it came to be… We do not conceive what they went through.” (https://speeches.byu.edu/…/davi…/glorious-cause-america/)
What do we truly know of those who went before us?
What have we sacrificed to be here?
What do we do on the daily to show gratitude for living in this great land?
I can still remember as a young girl coming to America from Scotland. Although I had been born in the United States, we had left for several years. On returning, I remember the anticipation, the awe that I felt in leaving behind everything familiar and going to this new country that was bigger than life, that would be our new permanent home, that had a new accent and Donny Osmond.
And I still feel that awe.
Each time the anthem is played the tears start. In random moments I walk into my home, see the full fridge, and hear my children talk about college or starting a business or becoming a contributor in some beautiful way, and I feel that wave of awe.
And that naturally flows to gratitude. For every single person who has done something to make this country a better place, just by being their best selves.
McCullough continues…”What Washington had, it seems to me, is phenomenal courage—physical courage and moral courage. He had high intelligence… He was a quick learner—and a quick learner from his mistakes. He made dreadful mistakes, particularly in the year 1776. They were almost inexcusable, inexplicable mistakes, but he always learned from them. And he never forgot what the fight was about—’the glorious cause of America,’ as they called it. Washington would not give up; he would not quit.”
Washington and other devoted, sacrificing people did on the daily what needed to be done to forge our great nation without fully knowing just what those sacrifices would yield for us now. They were the individuals who dug the foundation.
We are the individuals who are to keep building it strong.
We are making history, too.
God bless America.