The people of United States, a nation struggling to regain a sense of optimism and confidence, have, over many years, been told by the elites in American society that their country is one of an ignoble nature and history. That "American Exceptionalism" is a myth which has precipitated the plunder of the planet and the exploitation of mankind throughout the world.
A nation whose alleged sins have been so egregious that the current President, whose primary campaign promise was to "transform America" into a collectivist state, feels duty bound to go around the world on bended knee apologizing for those perceived transgressions.
The United States has become a ship without a rudder aimlessly wandering about the turbulent seas piloted by those whose only interest is themselves, their ideology and thirst for power. Yet the majority of the American people know that they have in their possession the key to a prosperous and equitable society: individual freedom and liberty concurrent with a significant constraint on the power of government.
They also know that in the annals of mankind the true account of America's contribution to the world and it peoples is one of magnificent achievement whether freeing millions from tyranny by force of arms or improving their standard of living by fostering global economic growth and new technology.
Perhaps the one thing above all others that many in the United States, particularly among the ruling class, do not appreciate is the indispensable and unprecedented role this nation has played in giving hope and a real-life vision of the blessings of true freedom and liberty to countless millions throughout the world. Nothing this country has done in its history can compare to being what Ronald Reagan referred to as: "The Shining City on the Hill."
On this Memorial Day the following is a tale emblematic of this unique role and the strain of honor and bravery that permeates the American character. While this story took place in Europe during World War II, it could have been set in Korea, Viet Nam, Iraq, or countless other nations:
A soldier, a small American flag on the shoulder of his jacket, slowly walks through the streets of a once bustling city now lying in ruin. The few still upright walls, their windows and doors blown out, appear as skeletons framed against the blue sky. His senses honed to a fine razor's edge to react to the slightest sound or movement, he steps carefully around the broken bricks and shattered glass.
The soldier hears a faint stirring behind him and wheeling around, rifle at the ready in anticipation of the worst, he sees, instead, a young girl perhaps five or six years of age slowly walking towards him. Her tattered clothes barely able to cover her emaciated frame. Their eyes meet. Eyes now dulled by the weariness of war and the never-ending struggle for survival.
He offers his hand to her and while wary she senses a genuine kindness in his demeanor. They share a chocolate bar and though unable to communicate there is an instant bond. She then motions to three other children, among them a boy around the age of two or three, to join them. They slowly and apprehensively come from the behind the shattered walls. Welcoming them into the group, the soldier, with a gentle smile, gives all his rations to the youngsters. For an hour or two, the children, some for the first time in their brief lives, revel in a sense of security and companionship as they gather around the soldier. They sit and talk to each other as best they can while the thoughts of the young man gradually turn to the memory of his childhood, family, and a sweetheart in a small town so far away.
When the time comes for the soldier to depart, the little girl tugs on his sleeve and with tears in her eyes hugs and kisses him on the cheek; the other children hold onto him unwilling to let go. Doing what he must, the soldier reluctantly turns away and without hesitation returns to his duty and the bloody cauldron of war; but he leaves behind children who for the rest of their lives would cherish the memory of that day and of the young man from another country who had shown them such genuine friendship and kindness.
The following day a snipers bullet found its mark and the same young man so full of hopes and dreams lay dead beneath the gaunt image of a splintered and shattered tree silhouetted by the purple haze of the setting sun.
Yet in a street of a devastated city thousands of miles from his home the soldier had shared a fleeting moment of peace and tranquility with a new family, those he and his fellow Americans had freed from a life of slavery and oppression and given a chance to pursue their dreams as he willingly gave up his.
The country, the United States of America, from whence this soldier came, is unique in the history of mankind. When attacked by foreign powers America never viewed those incidents as a pretext to conquer and permanently subjugate other nations. Rather this country in the pursuit of self-defense also aspired to the noble calling of freeing others from tyranny and allowing the people of those nations to establish their own governments based on freedom and liberty.
The basic tenets in the founding of the United States: 1) that all men are endowed by God with certain inalienable rights and, 2) that the individual and not the state is paramount, enabled a society to be created that fostered love and respect not only of country but of fellow man regardless of where he might live.
It is this distinctive trait among all global communities which has motivated countless American men and women over the years to willingly take up arms to defend a land they cherish and to expend blood and treasure so others can live in peace and freedom.
Those that were liberated, initially pre-occupied with rebuilding and getting on with their shattered lives, sometimes have failed to acknowledge their debt to those living and dead who rescued them and succeeding generations from lives of tyranny and repression. As the years march inexorably on, the memory of the past, particularly the most unpleasant chapters are pushed into the recesses of daily consciousness. With each new generation the knowledge and experience of war and survival is replaced with the demands of day-to-day living but throughout the four corners of the earth the sacrifices and the ideals that America represents are embedded in the psyche of all men.
I have lived among the people of the United States for sixty years after having been welcomed to its shores as a survivor and displaced orphan from World War II. I have been privileged to get to know the magnificent everyday citizens of this country from all walks of life and ethnicity whether in the foothills of Appalachia, the farm fields of the Great Plains, the imposing vistas of the West or the streets of America's cities. Their forbears created and molded the country that became the foremost nation on earth. That drive, determination, and character still beats deep within the heart of all who are proud to call the United States their home.
I am confident that once freed from the shackles of oppressive government as well as the misguided, egocentric, and often hostile leadership extant throughout the corridors of power, the vast majority of the people of this nation will make certain that America's best days are still ahead of it. The role of being the noblest and most successful experiment in the annals of mankind is this nation's destiny and an obligation it will fulfill.