IS THE SPIRIT OF ‘76 STILL ALIVE IN AMERICA?
by John F. Sweeney
(Jul. 1, 2010) — In 2001, the U.S. felt the horror of militant Islamic terrorists whose goal was to terrify and paralyze the people of the United States and the world. As time has shown, they failed in their effort.
But now, almost nine years later, we find uncertainty that seems to attack our sense of purpose as a nation. We are involved in two theaters of military operations that take their toll on American soldiers almost every day, with possibly a third theater on the horizon; our economy struggles mightily; our government enacts laws counter to the wishes of the majority of its citizens on a regular basis; and we have the largest environmental disaster creeping ever closer our shores. As the saying goes: if you are not concerned, you are not paying attention.
But let’s not allow our concerns turn into fear, and let’s not forget our unique role in this world. The United States has always had and will always have its struggles. It will always sacrifice for what is right. And it will falter at times, but it will right itself. With all the challenges facing this nation, now is the time to remind ourselves and our children of the unique role of this nation. It is the beacon of the world. It may appear that many of our national leaders have forgotten this, but we must not forget why this nation is blessed, why we must never give up and why we will not fail.
I wrote this in the fall of 2001, shortly after the terrorist attacks:
So this is what you think Jihad is? Killing, murdering. For what? You don’t even know. Is it for rewards in the afterlife? Is it to establish a radical fundamentalist Islamic world?
Jihad is not a war but a struggle; at least that’s what we have been told. If that is the case, then maybe we can explain to you why your destruction is now certain. It is because as Americans we too have a Jihad.
Since 1776 we have had a Jihad, although we do not use that term. It is called the defense of the Constitution of the United States. This document and its ideals established a representative republican form of government which provides freedom and liberty to Americans. It also provides the entire world with an example of how a government “of the people, by the people and for the people’” can work. It wasn’t supposed to work. Some of the framers thought that this form of government was too fragile and doubted it would survive for long.
Democracies had a history of being very short-lived. However, our country has survived because, up until now, it has been a republic, not a democracy in which the people vote for so much largesse from the government that it implodes. It has survived a civil war, two world wars, scandals and abuses of power at the highest levels. It did not survive because Americans took the easy path. The Constitution of the United States has survived because of America’s fight to protect the gift given to us in 1776. Our struggle is not only for ourselves but for the world, although it goes quiet from time to time. It was very quiet on September 10, but awakened on September 11.
In our struggle, our sons, fathers, mothers, daughters, brothers and sisters have died all over the world. In some cases, it was while fighting those who openly declared their desire to destroy the United States and its Constitution, and in other cases, it was to stop those who threatened the most cherished ideals of our formation: the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
Now I say to the Jihadists that as your destruction comes closer, you may want to understand why your Jihad is failing and why ours is never-ending. Over 100 years ago, an American president stated that “a government of the people, by the people and for the people shall not perish from this earth.”
President Bush made it clear that “we will not fail.” You may think this statement was only applied to your destruction. What he meant is broader than that. It is that we will not fail to persevere when challenged and we will not fail to be the beacon of freedom and hope for the world.
This is our Jihad.
So in 2010 we have our struggles, militarily, environmentally, economically and politically. It is times like these when the ideals that gave us our country and its all-important Constitution may not seem important. But on the contrary, the defense of our Constitution is of the utmost importance right now. Without it and the ideals it embraces, our country and its freedoms will be lost, possibly forever. And the world will have lost its beacon.
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