It is said that during the darkest hours of our lives, during our most difficult times, that these are the times we are to dig the deepest inside ourselves to find out who we really are, and how much strength and determination we really have. It’s a measure of our lives some call “Grit”.
Early on in our Nation’s early life, an article appeared in a newspaper, author unknown, simply signed “a free man”, which came to be known later as the “Oath of a Free Man”.
This oath spoke of a grateful people, grateful for those who were fighting for our cause of freedom. It spoke about the guardians of America, of honor and valor, and of sacrifice. Part of that oath says this:
“Although your private concerns may call for your assistance at home, yet the voice of your country is still louder. Never was a cause more important or more glorious than that which you are engaged in. Not only your wives and children, but humanity at large, the world of mankind, is interested in it; for if tyranny should prevail in this great country, liberty will expire throughout the world. He that is a soldier in defense of such a cause needs no title, for his post is a post of honor and, although not an emperor, yet he should wear a crown of glory, and blessed will be his memory.”
Yes, it’s during the darkest hours that we find out just who we are as as a person and as a Nation – and today in America is that time.
During our nation’s history many creeds and pledges and oaths have been written during those times to remind us just who we are and what we are to strive to be. One such writing is what’s called “The American Creed” written by William Tyler Page in 1917 during our First World War. It speaks of freedom, equality, justice and sacrificed; and it ends with this powerful pledge:
“I therefore believe it is my duty to my country to love it, to support its Constitution, to obey its laws, to respect its flag, and to defend it against all enemies.”
That pretty much says it all.
There was another creed written in 1946 by Francis Cardinal Spellman, who had been ministering to the troops in World War II in Europe and Asia – and after seeing the Great Spiritual Needs of the American troops in war he wrote these words:
“I believe in America and her high destiny under God to stand before the people of the earth as a shining example of unselfish devotion to the ideals that have made us a great nation: the Christian ideals of liberty and harmonious unity, built upon a respect for God’s image in man, and every man’s right to life, liberty, and happiness.”
But just what about this word, “happiness”? There’s a lot of talk today about happiness, and some have come to truly believe that it is somehow our government’s responsibility, its duty, to make us happy – that we are, somehow, owed something. Many Americans today, have just unplugged from any real personal responsibility to our Nation, and have instead decided to take everything that they can while giving nothing back.
The truth is this: when our founding fathers spoke of the “pursuit of happiness”, they believed that our government’s job was to give us a nation that was safe and just so that we could pursue our own happiness – but finding true happiness is up to each of us!
In 1914, on June 14th, our National Flag Day, our Secretary of Interior, Franklin Lane, was delivering a speech to a group, and he pointed to the flag flying that day, and he asked this question:
“What does our American flag say to us? Simply and powerfully this:
‘I am what you make me, nothing more. I swing before your eyes as a bright gleam of color and as a symbol of yourself”.
Let us each determine today this day to begin doing and being and working with all of the grit that we can muster up – to make our flag, our Nation, a powerful symbol of ourselves!
About Jerry Stewart
I am a story teller. Since 1998, I have been telling the true stories of our nation and those Americans gone before us. To say the least, these stories have been well received by Americans, both young and old. So, here’s where the stories have taken me. In 1998, I was broadcasting my stories on just one radio station in Washington State. Today, from Texas 15 years later, these programs are now broadcast through a syndicated radio network to over 400 radio stations all across America, with literally millions of listeners.