The American Dream–Dead or Alive

 What shocking news!!! News Flash!!!

Sixty-three per cent of recent college graduates don’t believe in the American Dream.

I am stunned. The questions then become: What do they believe the American Dream was/is? Do they have no great dreams or visions? What do they see as their future and the future for generations to come? Haaave they lost the ability?

My American Dream is as alive today as it was when I graduated from college in 1942. It’s as alive as it was when I was a little girl hoeing in my potato field in the Iowa sun when I was in high school; my grandfather never gave me money but always the opportunity to earn a little money. It’s as alive as when I joined the U.S Navy in 1943. And so it was when I got my first, second, third and every teaching job. Certainly it was alive when I got married and most of all when my children were born. And it was renewed greatly when my grandchildren were born. It was alive when I had the privilege of getting my doctorate. It is as alive today as it was when I took my walk to my first little white country school. It was alive in the faces of those I have taught. It was more alive when I came home from every foreign country I have had the privilege to visit.

It’s alive when I take my gratitude walk and sit at the end of my driveway and give thanks for all my blessings. But it isn’t just the beauty of the place where I live or the long and wonderful life I have been given. My American Dream isn’t the home, the car, the college education, the incredible Thanksgiving feast we just enjoyed, or the thought of the coming Christmas tree and all the presents.

It is simply my FREEDOMS, those two great freedoms that are my birthright and the birthright of every person born in this country and those who choose to make it their land. It is the freedom given to me at my creation to become all that I was created to be. It is the freedom guaranteed me under the Constitution and the Bill of Rights that allows me the liberty to have, and do and be all that I choose. It is those freedoms that I work to preserve for my children and grandchildren. If we do not have freedom, we cannot help others to achieve freedom.

To lose that American Dream that is the dream our founders secured for us in our history can only happen if we forget who we are. We can only lose the American Dream of freedom if we lose sight of what secures this liberty for ourselves and those who follow.

If the majority of college graduates don’t know what the jAmerican Dream is or have lost it, we have a big problem to solve. If colleges are teaching our young  a distorted view of our history, a view of our republic as a place of greed or a country devoid of “social justice,” or when they applaud and teach forms of government that have clearly failed, maybe those colleges are not worthy of our young. When these great universities have forgotten the founding principles that have made them great, perhaps they don’t deserve our bright young people.

When these highly respected places of learning turn our young into voices who believe the American Dream no longer exists or is dead, it means to me that they have succeeded in brainwashing them into believing that independence, self-reliance, government only by the consent of the governed, guarantees of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are all fictions of an older generation’s imagination. It’s time, they must be teaching, for a new set of rules that matches the needs of the time.

I’m always learning, and I am forever learning that liberty doesn’t need a new set of rules or regulations that match “the changing times.” Liberty is timeless. It is about the freedoms guaranteed in our founding documents. It is about the spirit born in each one of us. It is about independence and self-worth that allow us to be all that we can be. Only then can we  preserve the liberty for others.

I think of all the young men and women who join the service to earn the right to go to college. They are fighting and dying to preserve the American Dream. Will they be humiliated and met with derision for their commitment? Will they be made to feel stupid for believing in the things they fought for and many died for?

It’s not only college tuition that’s expensive. Much more expensive is what’s being taught there that can turn 63% of its graduates into believers that the American Dream is dead. These young graduates are many of our future leaders who will not even understand that they are continuing to turn out the lights on “the shining city on the hill.”

it was the dream of religious freedom that founded us, and it is the continuing dream of freedom that will preserve us.  We must not lose it or not understand what it is. The alternative to a beautiful dream is  an unwanted nightmare.

 

The Mayflower and Christmas

Yes, I remembered the Mayflower and those aboard that historical ship in my Thanksgiving prayers. These 102 brave souls endured the hardships of the journey only to find that they  had landed in a place where they did not have a patent. They had been given permission by the Virginia Company of London to land anywhere on their holdings. They also were given permission to govern themselves. They knew with the winter coming that they had to go ashore. Before they went ashore, they produced and signed The Mayflower Compact.  They pledged to create a political body that would be ruled by law and based on the consent of the governed and in the “name of God.” It was the creation of a political document patterned after an original spiritual covenant.

The document clearly represents people of God creating their own government.  The creators made clear that the political power or the power of any person elected to govern would have such power come only from the people governed. It also made clear that they believed that they received their liberty and freedom from God. That’s what they were advancing. They were called Pilgrims because they moved from the tyranny of rulers and risked all for freedom of religion. That’s how they wanted to live and what they wanted to secure for those who followed.. These first freedom pioneers on our shores understood and acted on the covenant they knew between them and God. The incredible addition was the covenant between each other. Founding documents that  followed have been founded on the same Christian and political principles.

How far we have drifted from the shores of the Christian undergirding of these founding documents is evident in the battles that occur during the Christmas season. A big one currently rages in Santa Monica,California, over the placement of the nativity scene in a public park, a practice that has been a tradition for over sixty years. Many more battles are being raged all over the nation.  These battles are important to all of us as we see arguments raised in the name of “separation of church and state.” And unfortunately most of us do not know our history and particularly our founding documents well enough to understand the distortions  being presented to us in the name of the establishment clause. If the separation argument doesn’t fly, those who are assiduously working to change this great nation to one of dependency, cleverly use our fight for freedom of religion (our tolerance) against us. We must be tolerant of everything and everybody, but all others do not have to be tolerant of Christianity. It’s an interesting, crazy, illogical situation we have come to “tolerate” because we are afraid to stand up for our very founding, the reason for our existence–self-government with our freedoms coming from our Creator.

One of the paintings in the U.S. Capitol depicting great moments in  American history is of Reverend John Robinson’s prayer meeting aboard the Mayflower before it sailed forAmerica. How many children, or the rest of us, have been shown or have seen the Bible and the name of Jesus on the open page as a part of the true history of America? The painting is just one visible sign of our beginnings. Most of our founding rests in the documents like the Mayflower Compact and those that followed. They were explicitly and carefully designed to help us be a self-governing people and to remind us of the origins of our freedoms.

 

The National Anthem, Pennsylvania, Hockey, and History

A couple of days ago a news item caught my mind. I couldn’t stop thinking about Pennsylvania and the national anthem. You see, the two are linked in so many ways that the content of the news item wouldn’t let go of me.

How could anyone anywhere in Pennsylvania, or the United States for that matter, suggest not playing the national anthem at high school hockey games to save a few minutes “so the hockey players would have more time on the ice.”  Now understand that I am all for time on the ice. But for the Commissioner to create a policy or rule or whatever to suspend the national anthem to pick up a couple of minutes was, and is, beyond my comprehension. Every citizen in Pennsylvania  should be outraged. The national anthem isn’t just a song; it’s a national treasure that speaks to the greatness of this amazing country and the freedoms we enjoy. It speaks to the connection between our flag and our history. What happened to the great and engaging history of the great state of Pennsylvania? You have more history that connects to our founding  than most states. Have you ever taken the freedom walk in Philadelphia?

Just the movements of the Continental Congress around Pennsylvania should be sufficient history to make Pennsylvanians proud, so proud that to suggest the belittling of the national anthem by equating its demise at a high school hockey game to gain a few minutes of ice time should cause demonstrations in the streets. These founders of ours, who met often in secret to protect themselves and their families, were men of courage, men of faith and purpose, and men who were willing to give up everything, even their life, to create this new, exceptional republic. The  national anthem speaks to so many things.

Perhaps it has become perfunctory, too automatic. Perhaps most have never heard it all  They only know verse 1. But that alone should be enough. Have you ever read the words of all the verses? They are about the “broad stripes and bright stars” waving o’er the land of the free and the home of the brave. That flag is the symbol of freedom wherever it flies on land or sea, in the air, or in space. It represents who and what we are. That is what the national anthem, The Star Spangled Banner, is about.

But the incident in Pennsylvania is not an isolated incident in our country. It is just another that portrays what we are teaching our young people. Every day we hear, see, and feel the results of an attempted transformation of our great country.

Our founders, our guiding governing documents so carefully crafted to protect us and keep us free, our Christian heritage, our love and respect of our country, the lack of patriotism and the derision of those who love to be patriotic–all are under attack. The efforts to decrease liberty and freedom, and the all-out effort to create dependency and destroy individual responsibility and freedom are cleverly disguised and much in play.  History is being re-written to match the views of those who would dim the lights on “the shining city on the hill”; our exceptionality and unique place in history are denied and apologies are made about our efforts on behalf of freedom around the world   Those who work to change our republic must capture the minds of our young, retain the minds of the youth they have largely captured at our colleges and universities, and still the voices of those of us who are old enough to remember what our history taught us.

Mr. Commissioner: You should apologize to the kids on the hockey teams, to the parents, to the community, to Pennsylvanians who cherish and know their heritage, and to the rest of us working to keep the stars and stripes flying over the greatest country ever known.

You see, if ever “the stars and stripes” stop flying over your arena, you may not have a hockey game. Take the few minutes you want to cut by not playing the national anthem and teach the kids about The Star-Spangled Banner. Maybe take a couple more minutes of ice-time and teach them another verse…

I Am Proud to be a Veteran

Yes, I am proud to be called a veteran.

I willingly put on the uniform of the U. S. Navy.  The decision was easy. We were at war. The Pearl Harbor attack had occurred while I was still in college. The war in the Pacific was horrific. The war in Europewas frightful. War Bonds were being sold by celebrities and non-celebrities; everyone was buying them to help the war effort. Uncle Sam was on billboards all over the place pointing a finger at you. “I need you,” was the message. I was in my first teaching position in Aberdeen,South Dakota.  A young lady, a navy officer, came to visit our school. I listened; to her. I wanted to help my country. It really was about duty, honor, service, and country. Sounds pretty old-fashioned, doesn’t it? Let me tell you; I still see it that way! But I don’t know how many of us there are who do.

Oh, yes. It’s Veteran’s Day. Everybody is talking about how proud we are of our veterans, and how grateful we are for their service. Thank you, but we want more. We need more. We need you to really understand why we put on the uniform.

You see, we believe in the exceptionality of this great nation. We believe that freedom comes with a price, not a mountain of debt that weakens our counrty and makes our service harder and perhaps less significant. We  want our Commander in Chief to come to our rescue when we call for help; no military person should have to defy an order to be able to “not leave anyone behind,” or to answer a call for help from another service member. We believe in our Constitution; it’s what we fight to preserve. We believe in the Bill of Rights; it’s what we work to practice at all times, in uniform or out. We carry on the tradition of our Founders who braved death, destruction, and derision to found our country. We have experienced all three.

We believe in the values that have made our country “a shining city on the hill.”  We have fought for those values for ourselves and our families, but we have  also lost our lives to give them to others around the world. We understand the covenants that our founders made with each other starting with the covenants made in the Mayflower Compact.  You can’t go much further back than that. We subscribe to the tenets of banding together so we may survive together; we have each other’s back. We subscribe to the principles of self-governance and the freedom to do so. We honor and respect our flag. We will fight and die to preserve it. We will carry it proudly to the ends of the earth to delcare our freedoms.

We lose some freedom to do as we please when we put on the uniform, but we never stop believing in, or fighting for the freedoms enjoyed in our beloved land. We can’t always say what we want, but we will die for your right to do so. We go to chapel and might find a chaplain different from our faith, but we will die for your right to go to the church of your choice and to practice your own faith. We are told when and where to assemble, but we will die for your right to assemble as you choose. We believe that we are helping to preserve what was given to us, those precious freedoms that are unique to our country alone. We were given a republic to preserve.

We get up early; we often know no night or day; duty continues 24-7. We leave our families to go where and when we are called. We can’t wait until our child is born, our daughter is married, our son has his first birthday, our twins enter kindergarten, or the first person in our family is graduating from college; we go when we are called. Oh yes. We will miss both Thanksgiving and Christmas on our first deployment or some assignment.

It is not just those of us with the title of veteran who serve. What we miss when we serve is shared by those left behind through the void we have we created with our leaving. They shoulder the entire load.  Whatever place we had at the table, in the delivery room, meeting our child’s first teacher, attending our child’s soccer game, listening to the happenings from school, sports, or just growing up–in all these places we leave a void. There is emptiness for us, but there is emptiness for those we leave. But we go and we serve, and they stay behind and they serve.

Yes, it is Veteran’s Day.  But it is veteran’s day every day for a veteran. And for those who will be called veterans, say a prayer every day for the freedoms they preserve for all of us. They really just want one thing from us: They want us to understand and want the freedoms they preserve for us as much as they want them.

They are willing to die for them. Are we willing to fight and live for them?

The Election of 2012–Beautiful Dream or Frightening Nightmare

Well, it’s over. Problem for me is, I’m just not certain about what is over.

As I watched the post-election faces and actions of the  people at the President’s acceptance speech event, I saw a stunning sight. Such wonderful joy, jubilation, happiness, total satisfaction, and complete and total exuberance. The entire crowd moved and shouted as one.On display was goal accomplished, visions achieved, and hope continued. It was like watching a video of four years ago on election night. Were they mostly new faces who didn’t remember the acceptance speech of four years ago, or were they the many who seemed to disregard or not remember the experiences and events of four intervening years?

I don’t know. I just know that it is a picture etched in my mind and soul.  And the etching moves through the crowd of millions of voters who would have been in the picture had they been in Chicago. I can’t be sure what they believe; all I know is what their vote tells me: Women care as much or more about their reproductive rights than they do about jobs and the future of their children. It is OK to take from those who are the most successful and give to those who feel they are entitled to some of that success whether or not they really need it. All the young  are entitled to a college education with all the attendant loans necessary to fund it; it’s even OK if they can’t find a job when they finish. Business is generally evil and greedy. Social justice allows for any confiscation of or distribution of wealth. Science doesn’t really determine when life begins. Tolerance of religion is necessary and right as long as it the religion isn’t Christianity. It’s permissible to leave mountains of debt for future generations.  Our founding history and our founders are really out of date; we need to modernize our thinking to fit the “times.” lies and promises broken are not acceptable except from mesmerizing politicians.

I do know that we cannot expect to change what needs to be changed when we have the same set of players doing the same thing that caused the problem. That’s often been described as lacking sanity, wisdom, and judgment. Our election just did that. We just hired the same leader to Institute monumental change required to save our republic.

But you know something. The sun came up this morning. The birds didn’t even know we had an election. When I walked to the end of my driveway I concentrated on an attitude of gratitude. I just won my re-election. I will serve on a local school board for another term; this is my fifth four-year term. I will work to make education better for our kids. I will continue to strive for excellence in my little corner of the universe. That I can do. Here I will try to make a difference. Little parts of the whole matter.