Archive for the ‘Constitution’ Category

America: Freedom Really Matters

November 2, 2008

My son and I are on ground where one of my heroes — the legendary Joe Foss, U.S. Marine, America’s leading ace in aerial combat, Medal of Honor recipient, mentor and friend — once stood beside me. We’re hunting — exercising our Second Amendment right “to keep and bear Arms.” We will be back home in time to vote in hopes that this right of the people won’t be infringed. But I wonder.
TR Buckskin Tiffany Knife.jpg
Above: President Theodore Roosevelt
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By Oliver North
The Washington Times

Last week in Ohio, the Obama campaign suggested that Americans need a “second Bill of Rights.” The idea — not a new one for liberals — came this time from Rep. Marcy Kaptur as she introduced Sen. Obama at a rally in Toledo. Kaptur enthusiastically endorsed the initiative, first proffered by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt Jan. 11, 1944. Obama said nothing to disabuse his enthusiastic followers of the notion. But it was a bad idea when FDR advocated it, and it is now.

President Roosevelt made the proposal in his State of the Union address — delivered over the radio from the White House instead of in person before Congress. He claimed that he had the flu and that his doctors would not permit him “to go up to the Capitol.” The nation was then — as we are today — at war. And FDR, the “indispensable leader,” already was preparing for his fourth presidential campaign.

In promoting his new “Bill of Rights,” Roosevelt observed that we already enjoyed “certain inalienable political rights — among them the right of free speech, free press, free worship, trial by jury, freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures.” He then said, “They were our rights to life and liberty.” Notably, FDR used the past tense and omitted the Second Amendment in its entirety — no small lapse when nearly 16 million Americans were under arms.

Unfortunately, the idea that our original Bill of Rights is inadequate — or even archaic — has achieved new currency with liberals. In enumerating his abbreviated version of the first 10 amendments to our Constitution, FDR described our rights as “political” and insufficient. The Framers saw them as God-given and a sacred trust to deliver unabridged to future generations.

Therein is the challenge in next week’s elections. The mainstream media and the polls predict a rout to the left. Does that mean Congress would have free rein to resurrect FDR’s “second Bill of Rights”? And if so, what then happens to the real Bill of Rights, first handed into our care Dec. 15, 1791?

The practitioners of politics — and those who write and speak about it — claim that these matters are secondary to “pocketbook issues.” I was told this week, “Nobody in America cares about that ‘constitutional stuff’ right now with all that’s gone wrong with our economy.” If that’s true, we’re in more serious trouble than my 401(k).

Perhaps I have spent too much of my life with young Americans who sacrificed the comforts of home and the company of loved ones to take on the responsibility of protecting the rest of us. They didn’t sign up to fight for gold or colonial conquest or “the economy.” The soldiers, sailors, airmen, guardsmen and Marines I have been covering for Fox News Channel in Mesopotamia, Afghanistan, the Persian Gulf and the Philippine archipelago volunteered to defend us and protect our liberty from those who had done us grievous harm.

They raised their right hands and took an oath to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States.” They understand what it means to “bear true faith and allegiance.” Most of them have seen parts of the world where there is no freedom, and they know that freedom is an idea worth fighting for, preferably at a great distance from home.

Thanks to the courage and sacrifice of young Americans in uniform and those who preceded them, foreign adversaries do not immediately threaten our liberty. But freedom certainly is at risk here at home if our elected leaders and appointed judges believe that our essential freedoms are “political rights.” If that is true, then politicians and the judges they appoint can abridge, alter or eliminate them.

The extraordinary dedication, commitment and tenacity of American men and women in uniform serving the cause of freedom inspire me. Their bravery and perseverance on battlefields around the world should remind us all that freedom is fragile and must be defended to flourish. The Bill of Rights, including the Second Amendment, did not come to us gratis or without obligation.

We are blessed in America that we can fend for freedom with ballots instead of bullets. Our charge is to elect those who will deliver those freedoms intact and undiminished to those who follow us, as my son and I now follow in the footsteps of Joe Foss.
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Medal of Honor recipient Joe Foss

Here is the late Joe Foss’ Medal of Honor CITATION:

For outstanding heroism and courage above and beyond the call of duty as Executive Officer of a Marine Fighting Squadron, at Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands. Engaging in almost daily combat with the enemy from October 9 to November 19, 1942, Captain Foss personally shot down twenty-three Japanese planes and damaged others so severely that their destruction was extremely probable. In addition, during this period, he successfully led a large number of escort missions, skillfully covering reconnaissance, bombing and photographic planes as well as surface craft. On January 15, 1943, he added three more enemy planes to his already brilliant successes for a record of aerial combat achievement unsurpassed in this war. Boldly searching out an approaching enemy force on January 25, Captain Foss led his eight F4F Marine planes and four Army P-38s into action and, undaunted by tremendously superior numbers, intercepted and struck with such force that four Japanese fighters were shot down and the bombers were turned back without releasing a single bomb. His remarkable flying skill, inspiring leadership and indomitable fighting spirit were distinctive factors in the defense of strategic American positions on Guadalcanal.

America Needs To Do More Hard Work

March 10, 2008

By John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom 

“We have lift off!”

Those words, spoken at every space launch, bury decades of work and investment necessary to make tough missions successful.

After U.S. military forces toppled Saddam Hussein in Iraq, President George W. Bush confidently marched across the flight deck of USS Abraham Lincoln beneath a banner bearing the words “Mission Accomplished.”

That was May 1, 2003.
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President Bush addressing sailors aboard USS Abraham Lincoln
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Democrats have derided the president since as over confident and ill prepared for the long-term work needed to insure peace and security in a new democratic Iraq.

Today, as we approach May 1, 2008, Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph E. Stiglitz and Linda J. Bilmes say the war in Iraq is costing the United States $12 Billion every month – three times the predicted monthly costs in 2003.  Add to that thousands of wounded and dead.
USS Lake Erie docked at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.
USS Lake Erie (CG-70) docked at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

When USS Lake Erie, a U.S. Navy guided missile cruiser, shot down an errant satellite on February 20 of this year, the missile and satellite intercept was rooted in a ship and combat systems development that began in the 1970s and a missile and ballistic missile defense effort that started in 1991. The costs would be staggering but are difficult to tally.

The point is simple: as we watch space shuttle Endeavour launch from the Kennedy Space Center tomorrow for a rendezvous with an orbiting International Space Station, the important thought is not those few seconds of “We have lift off.” The more important part of our space “endeavor” is the huge investment made by engineers, scientists, astronauts, mission planners, financial analysts and tens of thousands of others since the 1950s.

Endeavor’s mission to the ISS will last 16 days: the longest shuttle mission ever to the ISS.  A main task at the ISS will be installing the first stage of the Japanese laboratory called Kibo, a micro-gravity research facility which aims to open a vital new stage in deeper space exploration. Kibo, which means “hope” in Japanese, will be delivered in three stages. Once installed, it will complete the research nucleus of the ISS along with the American, Russian and European laboratories.

The space shuttle Endeavour lifts off from its launch pad at ...
The space shuttle Endeavour lifts off from its launch pad at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, August 8, 2007.(Scott Audette/Reuters)

Projects like our shuttle and ISS efforts take tons of sweat.

The same might be said of the war in Iraq. The same Democrats that criticized George W. Bush for “Mission Accomplished” are now critical of Senator John McCain for saying that American troops could be in Iraq for a long time – maybe up to 100 years.

This should not be too much a surprise to a nation with troops in Germany since 1945 and troops in South Korea since the brokered cease fire in the mid-1950s.

Tough tasks take a very long time and they also cost a lot of money.

The United States is the richest nation on earth ever – and the longest lasting democracy ever. And the Founders didn’t create our Constitution and the other underpinnings of this greatness overnight: it took years.

Life — and especially foreign policy — is not a viedo game.  It takes care, patience invested energy and time. Patience (for those who have forgotten) is the ability to endure waiting, delay, or provocation without becoming annoyed or upset, or to persevere calmly when faced with difficulties.  Thus goals are achieved.

In a society now enamored by lighting fast cell phones and an American Idol contest that only has drama for weeks at a stretch, we might reflect upon American greatness and history which teaches us, without a doubt, that great achievements are only within our grasp after long-term effort and investment — and plenty of it.

Related:
Only in America: Boundless Technology; Brilliant Youth

Bhutto’s husband calls for UN probe

January 5, 2008
By RAVI NESSMAN, Associated Press Writer

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan – Benazir Bhutto‘s widowed husband accused members of Pakistan‘s ruling regime of involvement in his wife’s killing and called Saturday for a U.N. investigation, as British officers aiding Pakistan’s own probe pored over the crime scene.

“An investigation conducted by the government of Pakistan will have no credibility, in my country or anywhere else,” Asif Ali Zardari, the effective leader of Bhutto’s opposition party, said in a commentary published in The Washington Post. “One does not put the fox in charge of the hen house.”

Calls for an independent, international investigation have intensified since the former prime minister was killed Dec. 27 in a shooting and bombing attack….

Read the rest:

 http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080105/ap_on_re_as/
pakistan;_ylt=ApoXhpGdCLB0rLsUxxwbJEas0NUE

Read the Washington Post Commentary:

“My Wife Died For Pakistan”

“My Wife Died For Pakistan”

January 5, 2008

By Asif Ali Zardari
The Washington Post
Saturday, January 5, 2008; Page A17

KARACHI, Pakistan — Last week the world was shocked, and my life was shattered, by the murder of my beloved wife, Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto.  Benazir was willing to lay down her life for what she believed in — for the future of a democratic, moderate, progressive Pakistan.  She stood up to dictators and fanatics, those who would distort and defy our constitution and those who would defame the Muslim holy book by violence and terrorism. My pain and the pain of our children is unimaginable.  But I feel even worse for a world that will have to move forward without this extraordinary bridge between cultures, religions and traditions.

During the years of my wife’s governments, she was constrained by a hostile establishment; an interventionist military leadership; a treacherous intelligence network; a fragile coalition government; and a presidential sword of Damocles, constantly threatening to dismiss Parliament. Despite all of this, she was able to introduce free media, make Pakistan one of the 10 most important emerging capital markets in the world, build over 46,000 schools and bring electricity to many villages in our large country. She changed the lives of women in Pakistan and drew attention to the cause of women’s rights in the Islamic world. It was a record that she was rightly proud of.

Read the rest:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/01/04/AR2008010403074.html?hpid=opinionsbox1

Pakistan’s Tyranny Continues

December 23, 2007
December 23, 2007
Lahore, Pakistan

THE chief justice of Pakistan’s Supreme Court, Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, and his family have been detained in their house, barricaded in with barbed wire and surrounded by police officers in riot gear since Nov. 3. Phone lines have been cut and jammers have been installed all around the house to disable cellphones. And the United States doesn’t seem to care about any of that.

The chief justice is not the only person who has been detained. All of his colleagues who, having sworn to protect, uphold and defend the Constitution, refused to take a new oath prescribed by President Pervez Musharraf as chief of the army remain confined to their homes with their family members. The chief justice’s lawyers are also in detention, initially in such medieval conditions that two of them were hospitalized, one with renal failure.

As the chief justice’s lead counsel, I, too, was held without charge — first in solitary confinement for three weeks and subsequently under house arrest. Last Thursday morning, I was released to celebrate the Id holidays. But that evening, driving to Islamabad to say prayers at Faisal Mosque….

Read the rest:
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/23/opinion/23ahsan.html?_r=1&oref=slogin

Pakistan’s One-Man Calamity

November 17, 2007

 By Nawaz Sharif
The Washington Post
Saturday, November 17, 2007; Page A17

JIDDAH, Saudi Arabia — My country is in flames. There is no constitution. Judges have been sacked on a whim and arrested, political leaders locked up, television stations taken off the air. Human rights activists, lawyers and other members of civil society are bearing the brunt of a crackdown by a brutal regime. Extremism has assumed enormous and grave proportions.

All of this is the doing of one man: Pervez Musharraf. He first struck at the core of democracy on Oct. 12, 1999, when he dismissed my government at gunpoint. My government was chosen by the people of Pakistan in free and fair elections. But Musharraf so feared my popularity that he banished me from the country and won’t allow me to return. After Pakistan’s Supreme Court declared this year that I have a right to return, I flew into Islamabad in September. But Musharraf brazenly refused me admittance to my own country.

Nawaz Sharif
Nawaz Sharif

On Nov. 3, Musharraf struck again at democracy. He abrogated the constitution and declared a state of emergency. For Musharraf, the constitution is nothing but a piece of paper that can be crumpled and discarded. After the Supreme Court stood up to him early this year and attempted to restore the fundamental rights of the people, he dismissed Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry. Stung by the successful civil society movement that led to Chaudhry’s reinstatement, Musharraf acted quickly after suspending the rule of law. The Supreme Court was considering Musharraf’s eligibility to be elected president despite being the army chief, but before the court could rule, Musharraf dismissed the entire judiciary. 

Read the rest:
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Congress: derelict in their sworn duty

November 4, 2007

By George F. Will
November 4, 2007

WASHINGTON — Americans are wondering, with the lassitude of uninvolved spectators, whether the president will initiate a war with Iran. Some Democratic presidential candidates worry, or purport to, that he might claim an authorization for war in a Senate resolution labeling an Iranian Revolutionary Guard unit a terrorist organization. Some Democratic representatives oppose the president’s request for $88 million to equip B-2 stealth bombers to carry huge “bunker-buster” bombs, hoping to thereby impede a presidential decision to attack Iran’s hardened nuclear facilities.

While legislators try to leash a president by tinkering with a weapon, a sufficient leash — the Constitution — is being ignored by them. They are derelict in their sworn duty to uphold it. Regarding the most momentous thing government does, make war, the constitutional system of checks and balances is broken.

Read the rest:
http://www.townhall.com/columnists/GeorgeWill/
2007/11/04/a_leash_on_the_executive

Pakistan: Musharraf Imposes Martial Law

November 3, 2007

The Wall Street Journal (Online)
November 3, 2007

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan – Gen. Pervez Musharraf declared a state of emergency in Pakistan on Saturday, suspending the constitution, replacing the chief justice before a crucial Supreme Court ruling on his future as president, and cutting communications in the capital.

Pakistan’s main opposition leader, Benazir Bhutto, flew back to the country from Dubai and was sitting in an airplane at Karachi’s airport, waiting to see if she would be arrested or deported, a spokesman said. Dozens of paramilitary troops surrounded her house.

Seven of the 18 Supreme Court judges immediately condemned the emergency, which suspended the current constitution.
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By MATTHEW PENNINGTON, Associated Press Writer 

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan – Gen. Pervez Musharraf declared a state of emergency in Pakistan on Saturday, suspending the constitution, replacing the chief justice before a crucial Supreme Court ruling on his future as president, and cutting communications in the capital. Paramilitary troops and police swarmed the capital.

The opposition leader Benazir Bhutto was flying from Dubai on Saturday. Her spokesman in London said she was already sitting in a plane at Karachi airport, waiting to see if she would be arrested or deported. Another party official said her flight was due to arrive later Saturday.

Seven of the 17 Supreme Court judges immediately rejected the emergency, which suspended the current constitution. Police blocked entry to the Supreme Court building and later took the deposed chief justice and other judges away in a convoy, witnesses said.

The government halted all television transmissions in major cities other than state-controlled Pakistan TV. Telephone service in the capital, Islamabad, was cut.

A copy of the emergency order obtained by The Associated Press justified the declaration on the grounds that “some members of the judiciary are working at cross purposes with the executive” and “weakening the government’s resolve” to fight terrorism.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice urged restraint on all sides and a swift return to democracy in Pakistan.

The United States “does not support extraconstitutional measures,” Rice said from Turkey, where she was participating in a conference with Iraq’s neighbors.

Musharraf, who seized power in a 1999 coup and has been a close ally of the United States since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, has struggled to contain spreading Islamic militancy that has centered along the Afghan border and spread to the capital and beyond.

Pakistanis have increasingly turned against the government of Musharraf, who failed earlier this year to oust Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry — the chief justice replaced Saturday.

Rice said that to her knowledge, U.S. officials had yet to hear directly from Musharraf after his declaration.

“Whatever happens we will be urging a quick return to civilian rule” Rice told reporters traveling with her, and a “return to constitutional order and the commitment to free and fair elections.”
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Crucial parliamentary elections meant to restore civilian rule are due by January. Musharraf himself was overwhelmingly re-elected last month by the current parliament, dominated by his ruling party, but the vote was challenged. The Supreme Court had been expected to rule imminently on whether he could run for president while still serving as army chief.

Bhutto, seen by many supporters as key to a possible return to democracy, went to Dubai after being targetted by assassins in Pakistan last month. Suicide bombers attacked her homecoming parade after eight years in exile, killing more than 140 people.

She was sitting on a plane at Karachi airport Saturday after returning from Dubai, said Wajid Hasan, a spokesman.

“She is waiting to see if she is going to be arrested or deported,” Hasan said from London, adding that he had spoken to the former Pakistani prime minister by telephone while her plane was on the tarmac in Karachi.

But Fahmida Mirza, an information secretary for her Pakistan People’s Party, said Bhutto had not yet arrived. The discrepancy could not immediately be explained.

Musharraf’s order allows courts to function but suspends some fundamental rights guaranteed by the constitution, including freedom of speech. It also allows authorities to detain people without informing them of the charges.

Military vehicles patrolled and troops blocked roads in the administrative heart of the capital. Paramilitary troops behind rolled barbed wire blocked access to an official compound housing lawmakers — barring even wives, children and even a ruling party senator from entering.

In Karachi, about 100 police and paramilitary troops surrounded Bhutto’s house and a bomb disposal squad searched the building, witnesses said.

There were reports of gunfire in several districts of the city, but it appeared to be aerial firing, police said.

The emergency was expected to be followed by arrests of lawyers and other perceived opponents of the government, including civil society activists and possibly even members of the judiciary itself, a ruling party lawmaker said on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue.

Private Geo TV reported the arrest of the president of the Supreme Court Bar Association, Aitzaz Ahsan — a lawyer for Chaudhry in the case that led to his reinstatement in July.

With telephone lines cut, it was not possible to contact government spokesmen for confirmation.

Chaudhry and other judges drove out of the court building in a convoy of black cars over two hours after the emergency was declared, under police escort. They were being shifted to their official residences nearby. Officers stopped reporters from approaching.

Former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who was deported in September as he tried to return from exile, condemned the emergency and said Musharraf should resign. He also urged the people of Pakistan to rise against Musharraf.

“If you don’t do it today, it will too late then,” he told Geo TV from Saudi Arabia.

Harry Potter, Gay Life and “Question Authority”

October 24, 2007

By Ben Shapiro
Townhall
October 24, 2007

I  am not a fan of the Harry Potter series. Nonetheless, I, like every other sentient human being, know something about Harry Potter. Most of my friends are fans. My three younger sisters are fans. I’ve seen the movies. I’ve read small portions of several of the books.So when J.K. Rowling announced last week that Albus Dumbledore, the aged headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, was gay, I was somewhat confused. When did the old dude with the funky beard turn into Gore Vidal?  

According to Rowling, Dumbledore was always Gore Vidal. At a Carnegie Hall reading, one of Rowling’s fans asked whether Dumbledore had ever found “true love.” “Dumbledore is gay,” Rowling gleefully responded. Dumbledore was apparently in love with his rival, Gellert Grindelwald, a dark wizard. “Falling in love can blind us to an extent,” Rowling explained. Dumbledore’s homosexual crush, Rowling stated, was his “great tragedy.” Rowling went on to label the Harry Potter books a “prolonged argument for tolerance” and told her fans to “question authority.”

Read the rest:
http://www.townhall.com/columnists/BenShapiro/
2007/10/24/dumbledore_waves_the_rainbow_flag

Related:
Another Reason to Avoid “Harry Potter” Books

Harry Potter: More Worthless Pop Culture

Kids reading fewer books despite Harry Potter hoopla

Priest Says Harry Potter Helps Devil, Evil

Our Nation: Based Upon God, Not Fiction

Congratulations to American College Students: You Win!

September 19, 2007

By John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom
September 19, 2007

Yesterday, September 18, 2007, was Constitution Day in the United States. As far as we can tell, nobody noticed. Except maybe the Washington Times’ editorial page editor Joel Himelfarb who started his editorial this way: “It is an honor and privilege to live in the United States, the greatest country in the world.”

Why does Mr. Himelfarb believe that do you think?

Because the rights and freedoms of every American are protected by the Constitution; the document that is the foundation of all our laws, government and society.

I scoured the newspapers this morning looking for a story, at least one story, that showed some group or segment of our busy American people honoring Constitution Day. What I found instead was this: American college students, even at Harvard University, are among the most ignorant college student in the world on the subjects of history, world events, their own government and their own constitution.

The Intercollegiate Studies Institute (ISI) as part of the American Civic Literacy Program surveyed American college student and found this result: in four major subject areas (American history, government, world relations and the market economy).

Students surveyed from 50 colleges averaged a failing grade of 54.2 percent on the 60-question test, and even seniors at Harvard University, the highest scorers, achieved a meager 69 percent average, a D-plus on most grading scales.

Congratulations American college student; you have excelled beyond expectation in …. ignorance.

Here’s an example: American college students were asked to identify, in a multiple choice format, the source document of the following words: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”  The students chose the Communist Manifesto.  The words come from the Declaration of Independence: one of the most important documents in the history of the United States.

Congratulations, students, you just gave the communist world credit for your most sacred legacy.

So, we submit, history might be of some importance.

Why should we care about history, civics and Constitution Day? Well, I do not pretend to know the answer, not being a college educator, but here are a few ideas.

On February 28, 2004, historian Daniel Boorstin died. On that same day, local high school students on the TV quiz show “It’s Academic,” failed to even make a guess at the answer to a simple question about the American Civil War and Fort Sumter.

Boorstin, lawyer, head of the library of Congress for 12 years, faculty member of the University of Chicago for 25 years, wrote more than 20 books. His famous trilogy on the American experience gave us deep lessons into who we are as Americans.Boorstin’s death, coupled simultaneously with speechless students confronted with the simplest historical question, leads one to wonder: “why do we study history?”

History, especially American history, teaches us the values, rights and responsibilities of our citizenship. History makes us a nation: a race of people and not just a collision of different peoples from many lands. You can be born French, but when you move in from another land you don’t necessarily become French. When you move to America and become a citizen, you are embraced as an American. People come here to share in the values and rights of all Americans. Understanding who gained those rights and how they achieved them is important because those rights bind us together as a people.

Our history is “Ich bin ein Berliner,” the Boston Tea Party, Ellis Island, Gettysburg, and “I have a dream.” Our history is the Emancipation Proclamation, Bill of Rights, and our Constitution.

Our history is our culture. Our focus upon “Ben and Jen,” Janet Jackson, “Lord of the Rings,” is fleeting, largely meaningless debris. The two biggest stories in American media on Constitution Day, 2007, as far as I could tell, were O. J. and Britney Spears.

The liberties gained by our history allow us a free Hollywood entertainment machine. But you can’t learn history from Michael Moore and Oliver Stone.

Our history separates us from the rest of the world and, at the same time, unites us to people everywhere who long to live free in a land with rights, courts that function and police governed by proven laws and legal precedents. Reading and learning our history teaches us to appreciate America’s place in the world.

Our history is the struggle of man, wars, sacrifices, torture, anguish and great joy and achievement. It is thrilling, heartbreaking and often amusing at the same time. The “why did that happen” and “what was gained” is often more important than the event alone.

Our history teaches us that men find some things worthy of their blood, their anguish, even their own death.Our history keeps our debates honest. Is Iraq really “Another Vietnam” as so many pundits have claimed? We cannot know (and they may get away with misrepresentations) unless we understand our history. So history makes us more informed as voters, which is very good, maybe even essential, for the health of our Democracy.

Our history teaches us toughness and serenity. Through history we learn the dichotomies of man and the strange bedfellows life brings. We learn that Great Britain, George Bush’s greatest ally in Iraq, is also the nation that burned the White House and the U.S. Capitol in 1814. And yet the Republic survived. So what really did the nation have to fear on September 11, 2001?

History makes us appreciate what it means to be an American.

Ken Burns, who made the Civil War video series, has just completed a new series on World War II.  Says Burns, “We are losing 1,000 veterans a day in the United States. We are losing among our fathers and our grandfathers a direct connection to an oral history of that unusually reticent generation. And that if we, the inheritors of the world they struggled so hard to create for us, didn’t hear them out, we’d be guilty of a historical amnesia too irresponsible to countenance. ”

He says the death of every veteran “is like a library burning down.  You lose all their stories.”

Our history makes us read. But don’t read your kids’ history textbooks. They are often politically correct collections of fact and misinterpretation not worth reading. Understanding history, like mining, requires one to dig deep into the writings of and about great men, at least occasionally.

FDR, George Washington, Lincoln and many, many more standout in our history. These men inspire us, encourage us and teach us (and our children).

And it is not just the well-known headliners who cause us to work harder and live better lives. Henry V. Plummer inspires me. A slave who escaped to enlist in the U.S. Navy, he served in many battles during the Civil War, then became a minister and served a congregation. When he read about the Buffalo Soldiers, he traveled west and became their chaplain. To find such men, you almost always have to read history.

Our American history is the thread that slowly becomes, over the years, a bond that ties us together as Americans. Our history encompasses our liberties, our values, our sense of nation.

Historian David McCullough said last year, “Something is eating away at the national memory, and a nation or a community or a people can suffer as much from the adverse effects of amnesia as can an individual.”

The state of our national understanding of history is suffering, thus causing a concomitant negative impact on our Democracy. Maybe it’s time to read some history and share the joys with our children.We study our history because it is a collection of inspiring life-lessons filled with great men who gave us the meaning of our Democracy.

Post script: My wife was born in Vietnam in 1955, less than a full year after the communists forced her family to move from the north to the south after the French were ejected from Vietnam. Until 1998, she lived her entire life in war, as a prisoner of the communists, as a refugee or as a detainee. She doesn’t feel sorry for herself but she sure appreciates the freedoms and goodness of America.