In the first stanza of our national anthem, there is the phrase, “twilight’s last gleaming”. Francis Scott Key was a prisoner on a British ship when he wrote the song. When the sun set in the evening- "in the twilight's last gleaming"- the last thing he saw was the flag waving overhead at Fort McHenry. In the morning, the first thing he saw- "by the dawns early light"- was the flag still waving, indicating we had not been defeated overnight. Now, the United States is under attack by foreign forces again, but this time they are not en masse, but singly, or in very small groups. Are we to be witnesses of our own version of the twilight’s last gleaming? Are we to be the last, truly free Americans…or has the surrender already begun?
For over fifteen years our country has been under attack from without and within. Evidence comes along, sometimes good and sometimes bad, and from that my opinions have been formed. Mostly, because of that evidence, it seems that the United States is in a downward spiral…economically, scholastically, militarily and morally. Our economy is barely bumping along when it should have continued to be robust and provide jobs and security for the working people. The armed forces have been systematically shredded to the point where we have a politically-compliant military which, some experts say, cannot properly defend the homeland. Morally we have entered into a quagmire of questions about sexuality. Our schools, from kindergarten to college are turning out people that have no clue as to what’s what in our government, much less the world. It does not bode well for us.
When, “in the dawn’s early light”, shall we see a nation rising up like the phoenix, out of the ashes…or will those ashes cover “the land of the free and the home of the brave”? We have been extremely fortunate that, when needed, we had men and women rise up and step into the fray and save the day for us. We call these people heroes, but if you speak to them, most of them would probably say that they were just doing their job…either the job we elected them to do, or the job we asked them to put their lives in jeopardy to do. Do we have those heroes today? Of course we do, but in the anti-hero atmosphere that surrounds the present administration, they are virtually ignored except when it’s impossible to do so.
If the last century, the twentieth, was the American Century, is there any reason to believe that we could not continue with our exceptionalism? This is an exceptional nation, “conceived in liberty”, and we are being tested “whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure.” We are a republic…not a democracy, although we are a democratic nation. We are a republic…not a monarchy, although some might believe that we’ve crossed into that territory. We are a nation of independent people, although some seem to be more independent than others, while others seem to be more dependent than some. Once we shook off the chains that tied us to a tyrannical government and, if necessary, we could do it again. That is the premise under which we govern ourselves, and the Constitution clearly states what is, and what is not, permissible for the government to do…to us, and for us.
Recently, retired Marine General Mattis said, “Since coming back from overseas, this is more of a foreign country than the places overseas. I don’t understand it. It’s like America has lost faith in rational thought.” So, as we approach another peaceful change of government, let us know and understand the great burden that has been placed on our shoulders…we the people, have the ability to turn the United States back onto a course of prosperity, power and prestige. We must not shirk what I believe to be our responsibility, which is to truly represent what the statue in New York harbor means…Liberty enlightening the world. Finally, this…”Any man's death diminishes me because I am involved in mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls…it tolls for thee.” from Meditation 17 by John Donne. Wake up America. Your country needs you…desperately.