As I reflect on President’s Day, I wondered what faithful patriots such as George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, and John F. Kennedy, as well as the constitutional framers, would have thought about our government and society today. In my reflection, a few quotes come to mind that lead me to believe that they should be a reminder of how our government and people were deemed respectful.
Thomas Jefferson said, “I never considered a difference of opinion in politics, in religion, in philosophy, as cause for withdrawing from a friend.” Various Presidents have looked at patriotism differently, George Washington said: “Guard against the impostures of pretended patriotism.” Abraham Lincoln also said, “America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.”
Each of these great presidents put Americans before profit and country and honor before pride. Today we are faced with the challenges internally by corporate interests and those who seek personal gains, as well as challenges externally from governments that want to influence our leadership’s allegiance, honor, and American pride. Abraham Lincoln said, “Be sure you put your feet in the right lace and then stand firm.” As Americans, we have seen the pain of conflicting laws and the struggle of oppression because of ignorance and the willful oppression of many due to their ethnic origin or their beliefs. Theodore Roosevelt said “The things that will destroy America are prosperity-at-any-price, peace-at-any-price, safety-first instead of duty-first, the love of soft living, and the get rich-quick theory of life.” We cannot let the power, will, and integrity of our past presidents be taken for granted or lost in translation to benefit one group of people over another.
John F. Kennedy also said one of the most recognizable quotes, “My fellow American. ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” We have seen this country through the good, the bad, the beautiful and the ugly, however, we cannot return to a state of segregation, isolation and diminished rights to serve a select few who’s ideals lead to divisiveness and exclusion. Nowhere in our constitution does it say that we as Americans are the only or the best. Our past Presidents fought to bring about a country built on unity and common strength based on the title “American.” Kennedy stated, “A nation that is afraid to let its people judge the truth and falsehood in an open market is a nation that is afraid of its people.”
Thomas Jefferson stated, “Honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom.” These Presidents resonate with truth for all Americans that should be an ideal for all to live by today.
This week, this month, this year and this lifetime, we should all reflect on what our past, current ,and future presidents will use as their guiding principles and fundamental purpose for choosing the path of our country with the highest respect for our Constitution and the protections it provides. The Preamble of the Constitution reads “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.”
May we strive to embody this ideal and perpetuate it for generations to come.