July 3, 2009

Do What with America? ... er ... How's that again?

Happy Fourth of July!
Happy Birthday America! A favorite quote from Stephen Decatur made me look him up on Wikipedia so you'd know to whom I referred: Commodore Stephen Decatur, Jr (5 January 1779 – 22 March 1820) was an American naval officer notable for his heroism in the Barbary Wars and in the War of 1812. He was the youngest man to reach the rank of captain in the history of the United States Navy, and the first American celebrated as a national military hero who had not played a role in the American Revolution. Commodore Decatur is credited with saying, "Our country, in her intercourse with foreign nations, may she always be right, but our country, right or wrong." He is often misquoted out of context. "Our country, right or wrong," became a battlecry that said America made no mistakes, which was far from his intention. Decatur wanted America's intercourse (a word that in his days meant discussion and diplomacy as well as trade) to always be right. He also felt that whether it was right or wrong, we should identify ourselves as Americans even when it was unpopular to do so. He prayed "May she always be right..." which implied he knew she wouldn't always be. However, he staunchly believed that it was a patriot's duty to not only stand up for America, but to fight for her, and to use the law to change what she was so that she would always be right. Nowadays, some of the things we're given opportunity to change, and some of the changes we have the opportunity to accept, are staggering in their sweep. Some are long overdue. Others are so radical they alarm certain groups and individuals. Some changes will change the face of America, others will quickly be forgotten. Some will (no doubt) be swept under the not-such-a-good-idea carpet and ignored. However all of the changes in our country may fare, I personally call all Americans to remember this young commodore's plea: that America always be "our country" and that we strive to make her "right" rather than blindly accept others' notions of what is best. I'm not one to get off on politics and religion - I believe I'm tolerant of other people. While I may not always support opinions of others, I'll fight for their right to express them. I also try to move past tolerance and into acceptance and reaching out a hand of peace and brotherhood / sisterhood. I say 'try' because I'm not always successful; sometimes things are so different that it's hard for me to understand. Some things I never want to ... suicide bombings, land mines, genocide, endless war. A friend sent me this link, and since it's so close to the 4th of July, I thought this was appropriate. Whether you think it's old-fashioned or outdated, I wish you'd give it a view and think about the bottom-line message. It was created by a well-established college and is about 10 minutes long. Think you can't spare 10 minute? Do it for America and see how very alike our kinsmen were 60 years ago. It's a good lesson in teamwork, willingness to speak out, and a plea for sensibility, the embracing of unity, tolerance, freedom, equality, and common sense. Can you spare ten minutes for America on the Fourth of July? America is what we make her. Let us make her right. Let us make her secure. Let us make her proud.

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