We The People

The Importance of American History – Looking Back to See Forward

american history

As students of history, we know what we are seeing.  Through the fog, we search for beacons.  Once again, we are drifting in a period of divisive, high-energy activism, so-called ends-justify-the-means “progressivism” – complete with uneducated utopians, brick-throwing enthusiasts, intolerance and arrogance.  Those old enough to remember know we must be patient, and strive to educate the young.  Once again, society – at home and globally – is challenged.

This new breed of “progressives” has social media to work with and, like socialists in Congress, is disinterested in history or contrary facts.  Benefiting from hard-won freedoms, they disparage American tradition, hard work, democracy and capitalism.  They never ask how we got here.

They advocate what they want – with liberties bequeathed them by those who lie beneath white crosses in America, Europe and the Far East.  They care little for how they got these sacred freedoms – un-chilled speech, un-persecuted religion, and unencumbered association.   They never ask why so many rose to fight for an American future they squander.  They have no time for the past.

Most have never walked Arlington’s silent, endless rows, white crosses and Stars of David.  Most have never stood on Normandy’s barren, once bloody beaches.  Most have never been to countries – most of the world – where just saying a wrong thing, wearing a Christian cross or Star of David, associating with the wrong people – will get you killed.

Most have never listened to the speeches of Ronald Reagan, tried to understand the life experience that brought that great American President to his world-changing wisdom.  Or listened to Churchill.  Or to George C. Marshall.  Or stopped to read Theodore Roosevelt, Abraham Lincoln, letters of Thomas Jefferson or Abagail Adams, James Madison’s notes from the Constitutional Convention, or George Washington’s reflections on freedom. 

They could not tell you about the Battle of Britain, Bastogne, Anzio, Solomon Islands, Iwo Jima, or American heroism in places like Midway, the Argonne, Korea, Vietnam, or – for that matter – Yorktown.  They do not have time to understand all this past.  They are on a mission to correct us, to teach us what they don’t know, so we can all not know it, too.  

All this is why our current patch in American history, vocal ignorance between times of knowledge – is so important and calls us to duty again.  Our duty is to be patient, teach by example, and educate with what we remember and revere. 

Surprisingly, this duty to educate – which falls to the older – is not about teaching facts or postulates, although these help.  It is about teaching respect for the past, those who lived and died to cast a shaft of light forward for us, teaching us to do the same.

It is about teaching how and why we speak freely, the goodness in hearing criticism; about freedom to believe and hope premised on faith, a nation built on that faith, even for those who may yet have no faith; and it is about freedom to compete and learning from competition. 

Today, we hear rising anti-Christian and anti-Semitic sentiments, with violence.  We hear pure hearts accused of evil.  We see law breaking, in the name of remaking our great nation.  We are told contrary opinions are not to be tolerated, that government is the answer.  Bunk.  

These things are untrue.  Hard work is part of life.  No size government program will end this reality – maybe Soviet-style persecution, killing some to indulge others.  That is not America.  In America, we just want the chance to succeed, not sweat of another man’s brow.  We need to remember goodness is not apportioned by government.  It is lived, earned and is its own reward.

So, by now, you think these are words without a historical grounding.  But what if I told you there lived a good man, black and persecuted without reason, who got his chance – and used it well, to show a world hurtling toward intolerance why it should be tolerant?

What if I told you this man lived when prejudice fired the globe, innocents killed for their skin color, religious faiths, culture and differentness?  What if I told you he was like Daniel in the Lion’s den?  He took the long odds, stayed merciful, demurred when invited to hate? 

Well, he existed. He was not perfect but showed the world what a man of heart can do.  His name was Jesse Owens.  He went to the 1936 Olympics in Nazi Germany, reviled and rejected by his hosts; being told he would not win.  His patience, love of the possible, and determination to show that hard work, freedom, and competition are good, left the world silent. 

He blew the field away with his resolve, love of freedom, sport, and the possible.  A four-time gold medalist, Owens won the 100-meter, 200-meter, long jump and 4 x 400 relay – with Hitler watching.  The only thing he ever threw, was himself into seeing what he was made of.  And he taught the world.  His life had ups and downs, but he taught good lessons, worth remembering.

Asked how he prevailed, he said: “In order to make dreams come into reality, it takes an awful lot of determination, dedication, self-discipline and effort.”  No mention of government handouts, no getting stuff for free, and no tickets to ride on easy street.

Asked about what it takes to succeed, he did not attack free speech, religion, or association; he did not promote violence.  He was the opposite of arrogant.  “One chance is all you need.” 

Asked where wisdom lived, he did not go for “us” and “them.” He spoke as a man who had really lived, and overcome much: “Find the good.  It’s all around you.  Find it, showcase it, and you’ll start believing in it … The battles that count aren’t the ones for gold medals. The struggles within yourself – the invisible, inevitable battles inside all of us – that’s where it’s at.”

His words quiet the soul.  Where is Jesse Owens today?  Where are those who look inward, asking of us our best, not encouraging our worst?  Maybe this is a lesson worth passing forward. 

Understanding America, and where our freedoms came from, is a start.   Understanding who we are, and in the words of Jesse Owens winning the “inevitable battles inside,” is a bigger challenge.  Owens’ example is a beacon in these troubled times, a shaft of light through the fog. He was not perfect, nor we.  But he never stopped looking for goodness.  That too, we can do.

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2 years ago

Never ever think this is socialism they are pushing as that is a cover for the real communism they want and take our country into the One World Government. I have lived and worked under socialism and this ain’t socialism; my spouse forced to live under REAL communism until yrs. later he could escape, and that is what we are seeing. They lead you with a small lollypop and then pop you in the face with owning you and everything you have and all for themselves.

Craig Z
2 years ago

President Reagan said that freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. He was so right; we are seeing the Left trying to do that right now, before our very eyes, all in the name of their twisted agenda. We must stand up to them and not let it happen.

River Song
2 years ago

The “rewriting” of history in order to push a narrative, or ideology is disingenuous at best, and dangerous at worst. It doesn’t change actual, true, history at all, but instead, lures the uninformed into false dogma. Over and over I am reminded of two quotes, the first by J. Heywood in 1546, when he said, “Who is so deafe, or so blynde, as is hee, That wilfully will nother here nor see”. The other quote, well, there are actually TWO others, the first by Edmund Burke (1729-1797) who said, “Those that don’t know history are destined to repeat it.”, and then, Carlos Santayana (1863-1952), who said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Basically saying the same thing, 150+/- years apart. Our “past”, our “history”, both as Citizens of the U.S., and as individual human beings on this Earth, MUST, from time to time, generation to generation, be REMINDED of the times and circumstances that came before us, even though we, personally, may have had no role in creating it, because it HAS shaped us, guided us, and led us, to where we are today, for (hopefully) good, or ill. If we don’t know where we, as humanity, have been, how will we ever know where we are going?

Joyce Welch
2 years ago

Excellent analogy. I shall pass this onto my grandchildren today.

Carole R
2 years ago

The history being taught now is so twisted and partisan it indoctrination, not education, Whether it is blacks, or racists, or just Soros it is important to know the correct history. Maybe Obama was elected, though the history books say he almost wasn’t allowed to run which was not true, but Herman Caine would have been a so much better President and still a black but he was quickly forced out so Obama would be the only black running. Much that is happening now has happened in the past. Maybe not to America but there would or should be referenced in our history.

2 years ago

How about John Brown who saw his sons killed before his eyes and had his neck stretched for what he believed . Let the nutjobs to their own fate comrade will take good care of them .

JoAnn Leichliter
2 years ago

Please tell Mr. Charles that “disinterested” (paragraph 2) means impartial or neutral. I think he meant “uninterested.”

2 years ago

The Left has been very active starting at the lowest grades of public schools to paint a picture that the U.S. is nothing special. It’s all about a “global” view; we are all citizens of the world; no country or political system is better than another. History is rewritten so as not to offend tyrannical forms of government while understating or ignoring the role of our forefathers in establishing a government by the people and for the people.

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