Posted by Vince on 8 January, 2021 at 5:18 am. 8 comments already!


My earliest memory of being an American was when I played Abraham Lincoln in the bicentennial play at Braddock Elementary School in Annandale, VA. I don’t remember much other than my fake beard and the top hat and everyone in the school had matching red, white and blue bicentennial tee shirts. I didn’t exactly understand the concept of nation, but I understood that I was somehow connected to Lincoln and the Founding Fathers on that stage.

From there I went on to spend the formative years of my life living in the American base at Guantanamo Bay Cuba. It was as close to Americana as you could get… this was back in the late 70’s and early 80’s. Our 4th of July parades were spectacular. They involved everything from tanks to horses to 57 Chevy convertibles with pretty girls waving. The parades were followed by a day of adventure on the midway with cotton candy, motocross races and karate tournaments, all topped off with a concert and fireworks. You couldn’t help but feel like you bled red, white and blue there.

After college, I enlisted in the Army for two years and served in West Germany as a company clerk and Battalion Commander’s driver. While there I was part of the honor guard who would bury American soldiers who died there, almost all of whom were WW II veterans who had married German women. It was always heartbreaking when you would hand that folded triangle of the flag to the family…

But despite all of that, the sad truth is, for the first three decades of my life I knew I was an American but never had to think about it and what it meant. I didn’t really understand it. I’d been taught American history, particularly as a Political Science undergrad, but I had studied to pass the test rather than actually learn the information. It was only after September 11th that I began to focus on that identity, that history and began to understand what it really meant.

I discovered for the first time exactly how courageous men like John Hancock, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams were. I discovered for the first time exactly how groundbreaking the American Constitution really was. For the first time I really appreciated the fundamental difference between a Republic and a Democracy, between a nation of laws vs. a nation of men. Perhaps most of all, I stopped taking for granted the freedoms we have, the Constitution itself and finally began to understand exactly how fortunate Americans are in an extraordinarily flawed world. For the first time I recognized that the ideas in the Declaration of Independence were not natural to man, that the rights articulated (and implied) in the Bill of Rights were not present everywhere at all times, like gravity… Intellectually I’d known all this, but in my heart I’d never really felt it.  It’s funny… freedom and liberty turn out to be like so much else in life, we often don’t recognize their value, their importance until we are faced with losing them.

While September 11th slowly faded into the shadows over the last two decades my new-found appreciation for freedom never waned and indeed my reverence for the font of our liberty, the Constitution, grew day after day. But I was still blind. Not to the gifts fortune had bestowed on America and Americans, but rather to the ignorance of a growing number of Americans about those gifts and what goes into keeping them. My guess is it has to do with war… As the generations of soldiers and citizens who fought in WWII, Korea, Vietnam and lived through the Cold War age and die, what’s left are Americans who’ve only really known mostly peace and prosperity and have only the vaguest of ideas where it comes from and how to protect it.

Yes, there was September 11th, but it turned out to be but a moment in time, and other than a couple of months of heightened cable news coverage, it touched relatively few lives. During the four years of World War II 16 million Americans wore the uniform (out of a population of 132 million – 12%) and virtually everyone else was involved in supporting the war effort. By contrast, during the 18 or so years Americans were fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan a total of 2.4 million soldiers served (out of a population of over 300 million – under 1%) while the rest of the population focused on learning how to shop on Amazon, do practically anything on their iPhones, harass people on Facebook and share far too much information on countless apps.

My blindness left me sanguine that somehow Americans were different and would withstand the nature of man which tends to have people choose security over risk, comfort over work and most of all, rule of man (or mob) overrule of law. Despite all evidence to the contrary over the last 30 years, I believed that Americans were indeed a sufficiently unique breed as to understand their special place and would vote to continue to bend the ark of history upward as they inspired the world with the relentless pursuit of freedom and prosperity, with Donald Trump leading the way.

They did, but by a sufficiently narrow margin that fraud in half a dozen counties around the country could steal their victory. Yesterday the GOP failed to live up to its Constitutional duty and allowed the theft to succeed. And because of their abdication of their duty, the Republic ended yesterday. Going forward elections will be fiction, courts will become legislatures unto themselves and the regulatory state will become a boa constrictor around the neck of liberty and prosperity. Freedom will become that rapidly shrinking landmark in the rearview mirror of history. That landmark is a headstone which reads: RIP:  The Republic of the United States: June 21, 1788 – January 6, 2021.

What dystopia lies ahead? Who knows. But author G. Michael Hopf distilled it down to near perfection in Those Who Remain: “Hard times create strong men. Strong men create good times. Good times create weak men. And, weak men create hard times.” Hold on for some hard times…

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