America…Lest We Forget
By Stephen Doherty
May 16th, 2021
“Posterity who are to reap the blessings will scarcely be able to conceive
the hardships and sufferings of their ancestors.” –Abigail Adams
Being a student of history, I scarcely recognize the current version of America’s founding being taught in schools and promulgated throughout our current society and culture. It saddens me deeply because I am intimately familiar with the rich details of what our country’s Founders were forced to endure in their efforts to extricate America from the subjugation of Great Britain – then, the most powerful country on earth.
While ignorance of our rich and fabled past is sin enough, we see today an organized effort to besmirch and dismiss America’s Founding as something tainted and problematic – as judged by a jaded citizenry applying today’s social and cultural “standards” to a much different time and place. The more I read of the circumstances and events surrounding the birth of this great nation, the more astonished I am at the staggering confluence of such courage, commitment, and brilliance demonstrated by a relative handful of dedicated citizens.
It’s not propagandizing or aggrandizement to recognize people and events of such uncommon accomplishment and significance. A handful of men gambled their fortunes and their lives on a simple dream – the creation of a nation dedicated to the single principles of equality, liberty, and freedom. That vision propelled a relative ragtag army of American revolutionaries to victory over Great Britain and forever changed the trajectory of our people, our country, and the entire planet.
One can easily conclude that absent the brilliance and confidence of General George Washington, Great Britain would have been victorious in defeating our war for independence. Such luminary figures as Jefferson, Adams, Hancock, Franklin, Hamilton, and the other Americans who signed the Declaration of Independence – would have found themselves marched to the gallows. They risked everything on an ideal and a dream.
The nation that emerged from that sacrifice, built and propelled by the dual power of our Constitutionally guaranteed liberties and freedoms, has become the greatest country that has ever existed on this planet. By any measure, America has excelled and represented to the rest of the world a beacon of what true freedom looks like. It’s why so many people have made the pilgrimage to our shores in search of a better life. Less than one-hundred years after our founding, we fought a brutal civil war to end slavery – that cost the lives of almost 700,000 Americans. More than we lost in all other wars combined.
A mere seventy five years later, America was called upon to save the world in a war that saw the death of over 100 million innocents. America is but an infant on the world stage and yet has achieved a litany of unprecedented accomplishments. America’s history is rife with living up to the edict of “To whom much is given, much is expected.” Those seeking similar liberties and freedoms have always found a strong and supportive friend in these United States.
The point of this essay is not grandstanding or cheerleading for the country I love. The point of this essay is to persuade and encourage people to truly educate themselves on our country’s history. You simply cannot immerse yourself into the lives of John Adams, George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, and dozens of other early American heroes – without coming away with a profound sense of their unwavering dedication to the creation of a nation founded on the bedrock principles of liberty and freedom.
While many today find comfort in judging America’s history through a lens of ignorance and faulty hindsight, as it always has, the truth is the best antidote for our current spate of malaise and self loathing. I take cautious and thoughtful pause in the words of Alex De Tocqueville, “As the past has ceased to throw its light upon the future, the mind of man wanders in obscurity.”
“A government of laws, and not of men!” –John Adams