It took a lot of muscle, blood, courage and tenacity to tame a continent. It took a people who refused to give up on the dream of freedom and prosperity that had uprooted them and motivated them to leave ancestral homes and sail thousands of miles of treacherous ocean to make landfall in a new world they knew nothing about and face hostile indigents, raging rivers and endless, uncharted wilderness inundated with aggressive animals, poisonous snakes and only heaven knew what else.
It took a people who were willing to claim this wild land foot by foot and come together armed with a few muskets and squirrel rifles to defeat the most well-equipped and feared military force on the planet.
It took human beings who could face stifling isolation, those who had a fire in their bellies to shake off the peasant mantle and let the rich soil of this new land sift through their fingers knowing that every grain belonged to them, free from the suffocating control of Lords and Earls who took the fruits of their backbreaking labor and allowed them a pittance.
They wanted to live in a land that promised to respect the personal liberty of every man, governed by a body of representatives chosen by the people, of the people and for the people.
It took dreamers who envisioned great things and wanderers who just had to see what was over the next hill. It took men of vision who could bring their collective dreams to fruition, and strong, unbending men who could make and enforce the laws that pertained to everybody equally.
It took a people who could come together under one dream, one cause and one banner, to live in a land without an official religion where God could be worshipped in the manner and by the doctrine their convictions dictated, not by a king or an official church, but by the heart and conscience of the believer.
I know that viewed from a present-day perspective this is an idealistic view of America. Idealistic, yes, but inaccurate, no, because these desires and principles are exactly what founded and sustained this nation – mores and standards that unfortunately seem to have largely fallen by the wayside in the last few decades.
There are many reasons the American dream has tarnished, that segments of the population have lost the faith and our nation stands more divided than it’s ever been, why hideous crimes are committed without conscience, why there is so much hatred and the wanton taking of unborn human life is treated as casual as having a manicure.
In a land as rich and productive as this one, there is absolutely no reason for hunger, yet it is common in inner cities and Appalachia.
It is ridiculous for families to be forced to live in drug-infested, gang controlled urban war zones afraid for their children to even go outside to play or walk a few blocks to school.
These and other regrettable conditions exist, and there are many, many opinions as to why and as to how they could be addressed and eradicated.
Some people cite racism, some unfair educational and employment opportunities. Almost all blame politicians to some degree, and there is a plethora of complaints and long-held personal opinions as to why America does not live up to the promise of level playing fields and the equal opportunity its founders intended.
Along with everybody else, I have quite a few thoughts on the subject, and also have drawn the conclusion that everybody has a dog in this fight.
There definitely is inequality in education. Some companies become so big and impersonal their employees become numbers instead of names and can be discarded as easily as a spent gum wrapper – age, years of service, family obligations and availability of other employment notwithstanding.
There is no doubt that after a couple of centuries of learning the bitter lessons of racism, it still raises its ugly head, all too often
For the sake of concision, let’s just cut to the chase and admit that our nation definitely has problems, and they need to be isolated and dispatched.
We have no problems that can’t be dealt with, but, and this is the hard part, we have to come together to do it. It’s going to take empathy, understanding, compassion, compromise and unity.
I know there will be those who have such a jaded view of what has happened to our nation that they are of the opinion that we can never come together again.
I vehemently disagree with that opinion, and while I will admit that it is a formidable task, by no means do I deem it “impossible.”
Let’s look back at those early days and the people who came to America to forge a better life for themselves and the generations to follow them.
Do you think they didn’t have their differences? Serious differences: language, religious beliefs, social customs and traditions, extended family loyalty which forbids marriage outside ethnic and denominational boundaries, racial enmity going back generations, all kinds of differences that separated those early immigrants just as widely and just as critically as anything going on today.
And yes, there was persecution and prejudice.
The Mormons were hounded from place to place until Brigham Young led them into a vast tract of desert on the Great Salt Lake.
The Africans came to this nation in chains, and it took a bitter war pitting American against American to free them.
The Irish, the Jews, so many immigrant groups were persecuted and found strength in forming ethnic settlements and enclaves of their own.
Yes, they were different. Yes, there was racism, vendetta-like perjuries brought over from the old country. America was a collection of square pegs and round holes, but the one thing they all held in common was stronger and superseded all the ethnic and personal prejudices.
And that was the desire to live free, to be a part of something much bigger than themselves, to own something, be it a few acres of swamp or a thousand acres of rich bottom land. They wanted to be beholden to no man, to live under no monarchy, where the vote of the poorest among us counted for just as much as the richest among us.
And in the 243 years we have existed as a nation, when that freedom has been threatened, these diverse people of different religions, different races, different traditions and different backgrounds have come together and stood as one to face whatever the threat may be.
In my opinion, what separates America today is that we dwell too much on the things we disagree on and not enough on the things we have in common, on what’s wrong instead of what’s right.
Yes, America has a lot of problems. Yes, there is injustice, inequality and unnecessary human suffering. Yes, there are many inequities, but we will never solve them as a divided people.
Can we just stop for a minute, put aside our differences, count our blessings, ignore the politics of division and recommit ourselves to each other and to our nation?
So, let’s start with me.
I pledge allegiance to the flag
of the United States of America
and to the Republic for which it stands
one nation under God, indivisible
With freedom and justice for all.
Will you join me?
What do you think?
Pray for our troops our police and the peace of Jerusalem.
God Bless America
— Charlie Daniels
Charlie Daniels is a legendary American singer, song writer, guitarist, and fiddler famous for his contributions to country and southern rock music. Daniels has been active as a singer since the early 1950s. He was inducted into the Grand Ole Opry on January 24, 2008.