When there are suggestions that the Constitution is outdated and perhaps that we even need a new governing document, I believe this to be a major crisis in the course of our country. Appropriate words to respond do not come to mind. Rather I am consumed with floods of memories, and with thoughts from my study and research for my book, America First, Again first and second edition. How could anyone who knows anything about the founding of our great country possibly suggest that we throw away the guiding document of our founders, a document that implemented and guaranteed freedoms that never existed together in one document before nor since that document.
There are numerous voices suggesting that our governing documents are out of touch with the present; they are outdated. The culture of today, they say, requires a more modern approach, a new set of governing policies that fit our modern outlook. I am reminded of a report about a store selling the Constitution to school children carrying a reminder to parents that they needed to understand that this old document was out of date. Essentially, proceed with caution.
It is an assault that I see going on all around our nation. I happen to think that it is no accident. It is a planned program to transform our nation. To do so, the Constitution must be made impotent and our Christian heritage must be forgotten, denigrated, or at least portrayed as illegal (the same arguments are used to make the bible outdated). The use of the pesky establishment clause has been a treasure trove for those who wish to remove all vestiges of our Christian heritage from schools, public places, and even public meetings. These same people, plus many others, are systematically removing any patriotic phrase or song from public meetings, even the Star Spangled Banner from sports events.
America First was published in 1916 by the American Book Company. It was written by Jasper L. McBrien, who at the time of the writing was School Extension Specialist for the United States Bureau of Education, and a former Superintendent of Public Instruction of Nebraska.
McBrien writes in the Foreward:
…the rising generation, both native-born and foreign, to get the full meaning of this slogan (America First) in its far-reaching significance, must have time for study and reflection along patriotic lines. There must be the right material on which the American youth may settle their thoughts for a definite end in patriotism if our country is to have a new birth of freedom and if ‘this government of the people, by the people, and for the people is not to perish from the earth.’ The prime and vital service of amalgamating into one homogenous body the children alike of those ho are born here and of those who come here from so many different lands must be rendered this Republic by the school teachers of America.
The purpose of this book is to furnish the teachers and pupils of our country, material with which the idea of true Americanism may be developed until ‘ America First shall become the slogan of every man, woman, and child in the United States.
I was born just six years after this was written. From the time that I was four, I have been in school in one way or another. I have lived for nearly ninety decades in or around school, going to school, teaching at all levels, working as a counselor or administrator at all levels, teaching and working with teachers and administrators, and served six terms as a school board member. I still see many dedicated people who believe and model the principles and values that have made our country great. But there are many I have encountered on my journey who have forgotten or have never known what the Constitution means to this Republic. How can our teachers teach our children what they don’t know? How can our teachers and parents who come out of our colleges where professors blatantly mock the Constitution, savage our Founders and heroes, and rewrite our history, know the true nature of the Republic in which they live?
Whatever corner of this great land each of us occupies, each must insist that our young are taught the history as it was written in the blood of our founders. We must herald the greatness of America to be First Again. It is not to make us better than others; it is to give us the strength and resources to serve others as we have done throughout our history. We must teach our young to love their country and prize the freedoms that it assures them. We must teach them to weave the tapestry of their life with the silver and gold threads of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.
That tapestry allows them to be all that they were created to be.
This is one of my many writings that I want to leave for my grandchildren. I hope they will mean something to yours. I want to be certain that I have given them the truth about our Constitution and our founders as I find it in original documents and the best sources I can find. I hope you will help me in this important task. I prize any advice. May this be your New Year’s Resolution too. May we be grateful for the freedoms that we have that we would not have if we lived anywhere else in the world.