The Baby Boomer Generation growing up in the 1950s was enamored by the transition of Superman from radio to television. Millions of Americans during those postwar years turned on their black and white television sets weekly to hear the following exciting introduction:
“Faster than a speeding bullet; more powerful than a locomotive; able to leap tall buildings in a single bound. Look! Up in the sky; it’s a bird. It’s a plane. It’s Superman! Yes it’s Superman, strange visitor from another planet who came to earth with powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men. Superman who can change the course of mighty rivers, bend steel in his bare hands, and who disguised as Clark Kent, mild-mannered reporter for a great metropolitan newspaper, fights a never-ending battle for Truth, Justice and the American Way.”
As quaint as it now sounds, Americans from all walks of life cheered and approved of this warrior for “Truth, Justice and the American Way.” Americans believed in America. They saw it, flaws and all, as a source of truth and justice in its distinctly American Way. In schools public and private students daily pledged “allegiance to the American Flag and to the republic for which it stands.” In history and government classes a sense of pride was instilled and the American Way was seen as valuable, meaningful and absolutely worth defending. America was to them the difference maker that had for the second time in a half century defended the world against unspeakable tyranny and oppression. Americans were rightfully proud of their country.
A new generation of Americans no longer takes pride in the uniqueness and greatness of their nation. Many Americans dwell on early flaws that America has overcome rather than the freedoms and opportunities that have made it the marvel of the world. The “American Dream,” aspired to by people from all parts of the world is held in contempt by so many who have enjoyed it as a birthright. A politician running for the presidency of the United States, a politician who has enjoyed all of America’s blessings and freedoms, expects to win election by saying things like, “America never was all that great.” American citizens cheer such disparagement of the American Way of which their parents and grandparents were so rightfully proud.
Has America made mistakes? Of course it has. Was the slavery that the newly founded nation of America allowed wrong? Yes, but while wrong it was not at all unique to America and was necessary given attitudes at that time if there was to be a United States of America. Was the treatment of Native Americans terrible? Without question it was. These things, however, make up but a part of our history. We cannot fairly judge the past by the attitudes or mores of the present. We cannot undo the past, we can however learn from the past and this we have mightily done.
God blessed the American colonies with a group of brave and brilliant men who in a Declaration of Independence followed by a U.S. Constitution created not only the America that was, an America that had the ability to become something even better. The framework was there to bring an end to evils such as slavery. The framework was there to provide suffrage (voting rights) to every United States citizen regardless of race, religion, gender or political beliefs. The framework was there to create a representative form of government that prevented the swings of emotion that make potentially dangerous a pure democracy. The framework was there to guarantee to each citizen the freedoms necessary to live the life each desired, to worship in a manner each chose, to believe those things each chose to believe and to enjoy in the eyes of the government the equality granted to each by a divine creator. America was a nation such as the world had never before witnessed.
It is on the basis of the freedoms and rights so defined by the U.S. Constitution that America became the most successful and powerful nation in the world. It is on the basis of such a Constitution that Americans enjoyed freedoms neither previously known in the history of the world nor enjoyed even today in much of the world. Americans can excoriate their president, their congressman, their governor, their mayor, and their local police department with abandon without fear of reprisal. Americans can assemble and protest on any cause without any fear of those in authority. Law-abiding Americans enjoy the opportunity to rise from poverty, to enjoy the benefits of an education, to start a business, to move from state to state, to create wealth and to live in peace with their neighbors without fear of an oppressive government.
It is tragic that so many young Americans, having grown up with all of the benefits life, liberty and the American Way have to offer, lack understanding and appreciation of the extravagant blessing it is to be an American. It is tragic that a major political party seeks power by dividing Americans over race, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation or any other invented or imagined ism or status. It is tragic that the culture and character of what has been the most free and successful nation in the history of the world is under assault not just from without but more seriously from within. It is tragic that the Constitution creating and maintaining this magnificent experiment in governance of the people, by the people and for the people is so little appreciated by so many who have enjoyed its unparalleled freedoms. One can only hope and pray that America will not be deprived of that which has made her the envy of the world. It is time for all believing Americans with voice, prayers and vote to peacefully defend as never before truth, justice, and the American Way.