Lest We Forget
The 4th of July has just passed – the birthday of the United States - Independence Day – the anniversary of the day on which the Declaration of Independence was adopted by the Continental Congress in 1776.
When I pause to meditate and think about our country, its history, the people who formed it and those who have defended it (some with their lives), I am filled with sort of a family pride and, I confess, I have a respect for this form of pride. If it be a prejudice, it is a prejudice in its most picturesque shape. It is connected with some of the noblest feelings in our nature.
I feel that pride may be allowed to this or that degree, else a man cannot keep up his dignity. In gluttony, there must be eating. In drunkenness, there must be drinking. It is not the eating or drinking that must be blamed, but the excess. So with pride.
It would do us all good to pause and experience these feelings of Family Pride –Spirit of 76 – Patriotism – that’s the word I’ve been looking for.
While going through my father’s souvenirs from World War I, I came across a copy of the 83rd Division Newspaper published Feb. 20, 1918, at Camp Sherman, OH. There was an article in it about George Washington. I would like to share it with you, because it expresses my feelings.
Quote – “We find that Washington’s greatness has not been created by orators, that his influence in the history of liberty is not due to the fact that he was fortunate in being the first president of this great republic, but rather to the sheer weight of his moral manhood. What he was, what he did and what he said make his present influence his abiding possession in the history of liberty.”
The genius of Washington was the genius of Patriotism. He armed Lincoln with his weapon by which the triumph of freedom was won. His patriotism was the foundation on which, in after years, Lincoln reared the superstructure of a unified nation.
Every outstanding feature in the lives of those two great Americans, Washington and Lincoln, discredit the theory that we are here by chance, each man to seek his own way, to go his own path, to carry his own will. God has some part we should study, some way we should understand, some purpose with which we should co-operate.
In days gone by, we had first to learn all men are brothers; that all races, pagan and Christian, are children of one Heavenly Father. It took us four years of horrible war to learn that lesson. We are great heterogeneous people. There are today (remember this was published in 1918) more Italians in New York than in any other city in Italy; more Germans than in any city in Germany except Berlin; more Irish than any city in Ireland; and more Jews than there ever were in Jerusalem. Here we are all religions: Christians, Jews, pagan, believer and unbeliever, men of all types and temperaments, thrown into the melting pot. There is no typical American. We have no national habits in America, but we have one common habit: a nation dedicated to liberty; the liberty which was the outgrowth of Washington’s patriotism. We are in a country conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are born equal. Not equal in size and strength, but equal in their right to a fair opportunity.
What does it all mean? This heterogeneous population with no tradition or national habit? It means that God is working out on this continent a new nation and it is ours to see that there shall be woven into this diversified national fabric the genius of the father of our country – the genius of Patriotism. Unquote.
We should never forget what was handed down to us by our forefathers.
You can apply the following to our great nation:
You got it from your father, it was all he had to give,
So it’s your to use and cherish, for as long as you may live.
If you lose the watch he gave you, it can always be replaced,
But a black mark on your name, son, can never be erased.
It was clean the day you took it, and a worthy name to bear,
When he got it from his father, there was no dishonor there.
So make sure you guard it wisely, after all is said and done,
You’ll be glad your name is spotless, when you give it to your son.
Charles R. Pearson
Malvern Legion Post #375