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"Sewing Circles of Herat"
by Christina Lamb

July 4, 2008

Hurray for the Red, White and Blue!

I am unashamedly patriotic. I love our country and, in spite of the flaws, there is no where else I really want to spend the rest of my life. I have spoken with many people in many parts of the world who feel that way about their country too and that is the way it should be. I have also spoken to many people who feel that way about our country. Isn’t that amazing?

I get a lump in my throat when The Star Spangled Banner is sung. I am so proud of the men and women who defend our country. I get teary when I think of the wars fought over the right to be free, when I think of the “Greatest Generation” as Tom Brokaw termed the warriors of World War II, when I think of the acts of bravery performed, some noted and some not. I love to see the flag waving in the breeze.

I am so thankful to God that He put George Washington in the position of leadership he had. What a model of selflessness. Rich Lowry, the editor of the National Review wrote in his column this morning (Publication: Orange County Register; Date:2008 July 04; Section:Local North; Page Number: S17)

“Decades later the Declaration of Independence was canonized as American scripture,” the vinegary historian Walter McDougall writes of the nation’s founding document, “but in 1776 it was generally read once – in army camps, taverns, and village greens – cheered, and forgotten.”

Its fate might have been to be forgotten forevermore, if it weren’t for George Washington and his Continental Army. When our great adventure in liberty still seemed an impossible risk, they were the embodiment and vindicators of the Declaration. Our nation was born on the shoulders of an army, whose exertions and principled patriotism gave the famous parchment its life.

Besides the Continental Congress – which hardly covered itself in glory – the Army was our first national institution. It joined together well-mannered Virginians, quarrelsome Yankees and backcountry riflemen in an incubator of the nation. Independence from Britain was hardly a unanimous proposition. It was on the Army that independence would stand or fall, and Gen. Washington’s strategic imperative was always to preserve the Army to preserve the nation.

He knew if he kept the Army alive, eventually the British would tire. And keep it alive he did, though sometimes by the barest of margins. After the war, Washington marveled that “such a force as Great Britain has employed for eight years in this country could be baffled in their plan of subjugating it, by numbers infinitely less, composed of men oftentimes half-starved, always in rags, without pay.”

Washington gathered around him an officer corps he called his military family. They were talented and devoted to him and – more importantly – to the principles of the cause.

Later there was still another battle that many lesser men would have lost.

When at the end of the war, a colonel sent Washington a letter suggesting he become king, Washington wrote back a stern rebuke. Washington biographer Richard Brookhiser notes that Washington asked for written confirmation from his aides that his reply had been sent, the only time he made such a request during the war.

Of course, when the war ended, he resigned his command and returned to Mount Vernon. Upon hearing the news, an astonished King George III said, “If he does that, he will be the greatest man in the world.” Before he did, Washington had a last instance of drama with his Army. Camped in Newburgh, N.Y., in 1783, the Army grew restive because Congress was tardy in paying it. Insurrection was in the air.

In a tense meeting with his officers, Washington told them that in rejecting rebellion, “You will give one more distinguished proof of unexampled patriotism and patient virtue, rising superior to the pressure of the most complicated sufferings; And you will, by the dignity of your Conduct, afford occasion of Posterity to say, when speaking of the glorious example you have exhibited to Mankind, ‘had this day been wanting, the World had never seen the last stage of perfection to which human nature is capable of attaining.’”

The day wasn’t wanting, nor were the men in arms who vindicated the Declaration.

George Washington is my favorite president and thanks to him, our country had a great beginning. I pray that it will continue to stand for what is right and noble and decent and true.

Winston Churchill said, “It has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried.”

And so, Hurray for the Red, White and Blue. May it wave forever, God willing.

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