Odell Myers, Pilot
438 Squadron, 319th Medium Bombardment Group
|We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union,
establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote
the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity,
do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
These documents are remarkable for including so few principles. They are astounding, however, for excluding a vast number of divisive principles; for example: The patriots might have established a monarchy, an oligarchy or a plutocracy. They might have selected one of many competing religions or sects as the national religion. They might have chosen an easier and more familiar path to nationhood.
But they did not. They chose an arduous uncharted path.
Suppose that the Declaration of Independence could be changed, brought up to date to match conditions that were not imaginable two hundred years ago.
Should something be subtracted from the unalienable rights? How about the notion that all men are created equal? It plagues us today and it certainly troubled the men who signed the Declaration. Some of them owned slaves. Few of them considered native Americans equal. What about life? Liberty? The pursuit of happiness? Government by the consent of the governed?
Should anything be added? A state religion? A most favored race? Now wait just a minute! Added by whom? Subtracted by whom?
Could any person, political party, religious group, non-religious group, ethnic majority or minority, think tank, private militia, terrorist, terrorist group or group of any kind whatsoever add to or subtract from the Declaration of Independence without destroying the nation itself?
Why did those old patriots make amending the Constitution such a daunting task?
The answers are in the Declaration's list of grievances against King George. They understood freedom because they were not free! And they embedded the litmus test for patriotism in the fabric of our nation.
It is simple and straightforward: It requires loyalty to this lovely land, loyalty to self-evident truths, loyalty to each other and always sacrifice, sometimes, the sacrifice of life itself.
The freedom they won was not free; it is not free for us; it will not be free for our descendents. In war and in peace, in actions large and small, freedom first requires doing what ought to be done-a daunting task amply illustrated by the nation's stunning successes, its dismal failures and the steady stream of constitutional cases before the United States Supreme Court.
In 1936, when Japan began creating its empire of the rising sun, when Germany was seeking living room and singing Deutschland uber alles, when Italy was dreaming of a new Roman empire, I was sixteen years old and still in high school. Career, college and girls headed my list of priorities. That's not quite right: Girls, college and career headed the list.
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