Alan Weiss’s Monday Morning Memo® – 07/05/2021
On July 4, 1776, the Second Continental Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence. The Revolutionary War officially ended on September 2, 1883, after over eight years of fighting, with the Treaty of Paris. The last major battle was the American victory at Yorktown, led by George Washington and the Marquis de Lafayette. Fortunately, and without planning such perfect timing, the French fleet showed up off the coast concurrent with the battle, denying any relief to the British. General Lord George Cornwallis, who surrendered his army of 8,000, was treated as a hero upon his return to England.
I believe in the importance of the American Revolution for its intent to provide freedom and liberty. I believe that Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Franklin and the rest were brave and were heroes. They would have been hanged had the British won. “We pledge our lives, fortunes, and sacred honor,” they said.
I believe we are a work in progress. We are imperfect, individually and collectively. The principles of equality and protection under the law have not been applied fairly and universally throughout our history. However, I think we’ve improved tremendously. And although we can improve still more and far better, it is ridiculous to judge those who established this country and protected it—and who fought a Civil War that cost 800,000 lives to end slavery—by “presentism” and a narcissistic high ground.
I believe in optimism, and I believe we’ve always been a beacon for others to lead a better life, which is why our nation has been built by immigrants and we’re all, after all, from somewhere else. (Most anthropologists I’ve read believe that America’s indigenous peoples’ ancestors arrived from East Asia over a land bridge between 15,000 and 25,000 years ago. All humans’ ancestry was apparently in the Horn of Africa.)
I believe that the bravery that established our independence and has protected this country during horrible wars, disease, natural disaster, and riots will persevere. But I don’t believe it’s to be found among those who try to prevent free speech, who try to change the values of the nation, who are fanatically anti-religious, or who seek to radicalize our culture by rewriting it and brainwashing students.
I believe we will get better. But I do wonder if we could win the Revolutionary War again with what some people would have us becoming today….
“I like to see a man proud of the place in which he lives. I like to see a man live so that his place will be proud of him.” –Abraham Lincoln
“I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed. We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.” —Martin Luther King, Jr.
“Our country is not the only thing to which we owe our allegiance. It is also owed to justice and to humanity. Patriotism consists not in waving the flag, but in striving that our country shall be righteous as well as strong.” –James Bryce