Turning Over New Leaf

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Sons of Liberty Redux


Since last Sunday evening, I began watching the History Channel’s three-day mini-series entitled, Sons of Liberty. I looked forward to the presentation because as a Humanities teacher, history is one of my academic loves. Learning about the American Revolution and its heroes was engrained in me since childhood, particularly since it used to be taught in our grammar and high schools. Now, not so much.

The program thus far has not disappointed me, despite anachronisms and historical inaccuracies. While Hollywood did its thing, the underlying theme of patriotism renewed good feelings about our Founders, even as we face the tough times of the twenty-first century. As an American, the show conjured up anxiety over the concept of power in the hands of an elite government, instead of in the people the government is supposed to serve and protect.

This morning, I read some reviews on the mini-series from the politically slanted LA Times and New York Times. Not unexpectedly, both publications were disappointed. Ignoring many of the papers’ sillier comments, I began to search for statistics on the show. Apparently, the presentation attracted some three million viewers, instead of the fourteen million enjoyed by some of the History Channel’s other mini-series events.

Flipping through some TV news channels after breakfast, I came across an interview with American college students who were asked to name the first president of the United States. They could not. The interviewees were not foreign nationals or recent immigrants. They were primarily white, middle class, American-born citizens, and they were clueless. Most of them laughed at their own ignorance. It was no joke.

Here are some of the quotes from the American Revolutionary heroes that sacrificed so much to insure that we could enjoy living freely in the greatest nation on the planet:

John Paul Jones, Father of the United States Navy, when asked by the British if he was ready to surrender – “I have not yet begun to fight.”

Patrick Henry, urging members of the Virginia House to join the war effort – “I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!”

Nathan Hale, captured Continental Army intelligence soldier, minutes before he was hanged – “I only regret that I have but one life to give for my country."

American students used to learn about these heroes and their efforts to pass on freedom to future generations. They were honored for centuries, but are now disappearing from our history books, often replaced by radical personalities disenchanted with their lives and American democracy.

I certainly do not wish to give the impression that I am in favor of violence or war. In fact, the opposite is true. Like Ernest Hemingway, I firmly believe that war is an absurd method of resolving human disputes. However, bravery is not absurd. Nor is protecting American interests paid for with the lives of so many heroes since 1776. We owe it to our children to educate them on our nation’s democratic ideals, not on propaganda spewed by those desiring to undermine them.

Many Americans would love to return to the days of national pride. Our children deserve to feel protected by leadership they can associate with the bravery of Ethan Allen and Samuel Adams, actually focused on American security, not Patriots’ with deflated balls.

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