I typically love Independence Day; it's my second favorite holiday (after Christmas). To me the day encompasses all things that speak to me of America: flags, family, outdoor grilling, patriotic music, parades, summer, red-white-and-blue, and those booms that emanate from watching firework shows up close -- the kind that shake your ribcage.
However, like lots of fellow patriots, I greeted this past July 4th with a pit in my heart. Obamacare had been deemed constitutional by the Supreme Court, and it had been a bitter week. I started the day by walking for Greg Smith's state senate race in the Lenexa parade. On hand were Senator Jerry Moran and Congressman Kevin Yoder, but in conversation with them I found their comments were anything but upbeat.
Once home, I settled on the family room couch, thinking I would drift off into a nap. However, I became intrigued by watching the History Channel's marathon of The American Revolution. The segment I happened to catch dealt with the years 1779-1780 -- the darkest years. Washington's army was trapped by snowfall and blizzard conditions in Morristown, New Jersey, which were worse than those of the more-fabled Valley Forge winter. Charleston, South Carolina, fell under siege by the British, who were probing for the soft underbelly of the rebellion, and found it in the South. Civil war broke out in South Carolina between Americans, the Rebels versus the Loyalists. A Continental Army force was literally massacred by a Loyalist force led by Lieutenant Colonel Banastre Tarleton at the Battle of Waxhaws; men were struck down even after they surrendered. (Remember the barbaric "Colonel Tavington" in the movie The Patriot? He was based on Tarleton.)
Benedict Arnold turned coat in 1780. The Continental dollar was vastly devalued. The Continental Congress was prone to bribes and corruption (sound familiar?). Washington's men were reduced to eating shoe leather and even a pet dog during that winter in Morristown, while Continental soldiers captured in the Charleston siege were literally rotting in British prisons in the South.
From my point of view, the circumstances of 1779-1780 were more grave than they are today, and yet Washington and his fellow patriots were able to prevail against the most powerful nation of the time.
I'm no Pollyanna, and I do harbor a cynical streak, but seeing how Washington and our newborn nation persevered despite those odds was heartening. Forget the leftist media who are crowing about Obama's Big Victory. Forget the 'conservative' pundits who try to spin a positive outlook on the disastrous Affordable Care Act ruling. Forget the all-is-lost mantra of Mitch McConnell. We need to speak up and out once again like we did at those first Tea Parties in 2009. We need to support candidates who speak out for the limited government that can bring about repeal, at the local, state, and national levels. We need to share information on social media such as Facebook, Twitter, and of course Political Chips.
We need to vote at the primary level as well as in national elections. This is most vital.
General George Patton, in his speech to the Third Army in May, 1944, famously remarked that "Americans love a winner and will not tolerate a loser." What he overlooked is that Americans especially love underdogs who are transformed into winners. We cheered when the 1980 American Olympic hockey team defeated the Soviet team. We loved the image of the little racehorse Seabiscuit defeating the regal War Admiral. We cheer at the underdog heroes in movies like Braveheart or Gladiator -- heck, we even cheered on the unlikely protagonist of Napoleon Dynamite. Most recently we thrilled at the release of Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng to the freedom of America.
Certainly many, many, long shots fail, no matter how virtuous the cause. In 1836 every defender of the Alamo met his death. The 1944 Warsaw Uprising, led by Polish resistance fighters, was defeated by the Nazis. While Chen Guangcheng enjoys freedom in New York, Nobel prize winner Liu Xiaobo sits in a Chinese prison for his activist writings. And who knows what really happened to this guy?
We. Must. Not. Quit.