Happy & Safe 4th of July
- Today in Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton
- 13th Sunday of Ordinary Time
- 1 July 2018
Thomas Jefferson has always been one of my heroes, and I have a penchant for collecting the $2 bill as part of my admiration. Although George Washington was the truly indispensable man, it was Jefferson who gave us the Declaration of Independence and also had a profound influence on the Federal Constitution. He was largely responsible for the Louisiana Purchase and the westward expansion of the United States. Like so many other great leaders, he struggled with his own prejudices and failures.
Not unlike those early years of our nation we are finding ourselves divided once again along political lines. Much of what is going on now would not have been unfamiliar to Washington, Adams and Jefferson. Boatloads of foreign (English) troops were sent to preserve the North American British possessions of the 18th century and protect the loyal monarchists from the radical revolutionaries who sought a new vision of liberty. History books are written by the vicors, and the heroes of the American Revolution would quite probably have been hanged as traitors had the fortunes of war been different. The American ethos is both expansionist and isolationist. The growth of this nation from the Northwest Territories into the Missouri country and eventually to the shores of the Pacific was met with scathing criticism and heated debate. The moral issue of slavery divided the American people to such an extent that a great civil war was all but inevitable within four score years from the foundation of the republic. The power struggle between the several States and the Federal government continues to this day.
The history of our nation is checkered with many conflicts and wars. Since the victory of the allies in World War II, the United States has assumed an enormously powerful role in the world. Prior to 1941, the American people were perfectly content to let the rest of the world do what it was doing as long as they didn’t bother us. That isolationist attitude did not seem to work all that well after December 7th. At a terrible cost in lives and treasure, the American people waged a war on two fronts that propelled this nation into the position of the leading world power. Our troops conquered and occupied the Axis powers in the middle of the last century, and our soldiers have remained in Germany, Italy and Japan to this very day.
We were of a similar mind in September of 2001, when our country was attacked within our own borders – the first time such an attack had taken place since the burning of Washington in 1812. It was not a naval base in the Hawaiian Islands, but the city of New York that was attacked. It was not thousands of sailors and soldiers who were killed, but civilians in airplanes and skyscrapers. It was the attacks of September 11th that began to precipitate an entirely new understanding of the world for the American people in this new millennium. The Europeans were accustomed to wars and invasions and acts of terrorism. We were not. Although we would like to think that everyone in the world is reasonable, our history has taught us that such is not the case. Though we would like to think that evil is something that only exists in the horror films of Hollywood, we must never forget the horrors of Auschwitz and Corregidor. We were appalled on 9/11 to watch our nation once again under attack from a foe that seeks to destroy us in our own cities and in our own capital. If we forget, if we appease, if we give up and give in, we will do so to our own peril. We must remember well those who have risked their homes, their lives and their sacred honor to win the liberty that we so often take for granted.
Happy Birthday to the United States of America.