Memorial Day, Billy Mack DeVine and America’s place in world history
Loving the un-transformed America and those that died to preserve it
My Great Uncle didn’t die fighting the Nazis so that one day We the People could be forced to buy health insurance that covers morning after pills or to empower a Secretary of Health and Human Services and 12-member panel of experts to decide the fate of those that survive morning after pills.
It was said that the only time my paternal grandfather, “Pop”, was seen to cry was when he got the news that his baby brother Mack was shot down over Hitler’s Germany. Pop’s oldest brother Lecil, had served briefly in WWW I but my Grandfather DeVine was denied enlistment in the armed forces of the United States due to his bad eye.
Another American citizen that was denied combat service during WWII due to vision problems was President Ronald Reagan, whose words of warning in his Farewell Address came to mind this week while considering the prospects of a people that elected a man that ate dog as a child, pretended to be born in Kenya as a young man and parked his butt in the pews of a Hate America Church for 20 years:
But oddly enough it starts with one of the things I’m proudest of in the past eight years; the resurgence of national pride that I called “the new patriotism.” This national feeling is good, but it won’t count for much, and it won’t last unless it’s grounded in thoughtfulness and knowledge.
An informed patriotism is what we want. And are we doing a good enough job teaching our children what America is and what she represents in the long history of the world?
Those of us who are over 35 or so years of age grew up in a different America. We were taught, very directly, what it means to be an American, and we absorbed almost in the air a love of country and an appreciation of its institutions. If you didn’t get these things from your family you got them from the neighborhood, from the father down the street who fought in Korea or the family who lost someone at Anzio. Or you could get a sense of patriotism from school. And if all else failed, you could get a sense of patriotism from the popular culture. The movies celebrated democratic values and implicitly reinforced the idea that America was special. TV was like that, too, through the mid-Sixties. Ahead, to the Nineties
But now we’re about to enter the Nineties, and some things have changed. Younger parents aren’t sure that an unambivalent appreciation of America is the right thing to teach modern children. And as for those who create the popular culture, well-grounded patriotism is no longer the style.
Our spirit is back, but we haven’t reinstitutionalized it. We’ve got to do a better job of getting across that America is freedom – freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of enterprise – and freedom is special and rare. It’s fragile; it needs protection.
We’ve got to teach history based not on what’s in fashion but what’s important: Why the pilgrims came here, who Jimmy Doolittle was, and what those 30 seconds over Tokyo meant. You know, four years ago, on the 40th anniversary of D-Day. I read a letter from a young woman writing to her late father, who’d fought on Omaha Beach. Her name was Lisa Zanatta Henn, and she said, we will always remember, we will never forget what the boys of Normandy did. Well, let’s help her keep her word.
If we forget what we did, we won’t know who we are. I am warning of an eradication of that – of the American memory that could result, ultimately, in an erosion of the American spirit.
Let’s start with some basics – more attention to American history and a greater emphasis of civic ritual. And let me offer lesson No. 1 about America : All great change in America begins at the dinner table. So tomorrow night in the kitchen I hope the talking begins. And children, if your parents haven’t been teaching you what it means to be an American – let ’em know and nail ’em on it. That would be a very American thing to do.
And that’s about all I have to say tonight. Except for one thing.
The past few days when I’ve been at that window upstairs, I’ve thought a bit of the shining “city upon a hill.” The phrase comes from John Winthrop, who wrote it to describe the America he imagined. What he imagined was important, because he was an early Pilgrim – an early “Freedom Man.” He journeyed here on what today we’d call a little wooden boat, and, like the other pilgrims, he was looking for a home that would be free.
I’ve spoken of the shining city all my political life, but I don’t know if I ever quite communicated what I saw when I said it. But in my mind, it was a tall proud city built on rocks stronger than oceans, wind swept, God blessed, and teeming with people of all kinds living in harmony and peace – a city with free ports that hummed with commerce and creativity, and if there had to be city walls, the walls had doors, and the doors were open to anyone with the will and the heart to get here.
That’s how I saw it, and see it still. How Stands the City?
And how stands the city on this winter night? More prosperous, more secure and happier than it was eight years ago. But more than that: after 200 years, two centuries, she still stands strong and true on the granite ridge, and her glow has held steady no matter what storm.
And she’s still a beacon, still a magnet for all who must have freedom, for all the Pilgrims from all the lost places who are hurtling through the darkness, toward home.
We’ve done our part. And as I “walk off into the city streets,” a final word to the men and women of the Reagan Revolution – the men and women across America who for eight years did the work that brought America back:
My friends, we did it. We weren’t just marking time, we made a difference. We made the city stronger – we made the city freer – and we left her in good hands.
Thinking back to that January night in 1989, it did seem that we were stronger then and that enough Americans understood what had made us so, so that the collective memory of what cured the malaise of the 1970s would last the remainder of my lifetime.
But just as Reagan warned in this speech and more explicitly in other speeches throughout his career, Liberty must be won each generation and can be lost very quickly.
Where does President Barack Hussein Obama place America in world history? Is he proud of what so many have sacrificed their lives, fortunes and scared honor to achieve since the founding and through yesterday’s battles in Afghanistan? Does a man that is proud of his country continually apologize for it, bow to foreign leaders and promise to fundamentally transform it?
On this Memorial Day, I will honor the sacrifices of those fallen to make me free and pray that we raise up national leaders to keep us the Shining City upon a hill.
Atlanta Law & Politics columnist – Examiner.com
Editor – Hillbilly Politics
Co-Founder and Editor – Political Daily
“One man with courage makes a majority.” – Andrew Jackson