I absolutely detest when I hear individuals commenting on how things are worse than they ever have been. Here are the reasons why.
Number three is the basis for today’s post. Look upon the history of this nation and see the responses we have made to adversity. It should give you chills and fill you with pride. If it does not you don’t have a pulse.
When I was a little boy and those cowards took down the towers I came home and watched it on television. It was the first time I can remember seeing my father cry. It scared the shit out of me. In the days that followed I attended candle-light vigils. I watched my entire town cover their trees in yellow ribbons. Mothers and Fathers began putting up blue star flags in their windows. It’s unfortunate but eventually those blue stars would be replaced by gold stars. Men like Pat Tillman would go on to become men the rest of us would write books about. We rallied around the flag and united as a nation.
On December 7th, 1941 the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. Our nation’s president referred to it as a day that would live in infamy. The man who planned the attacks was a Japanese Admiral by the name of Isoroku Yamamoto. It has never been confirmed that Yamamoto said the following quote in the days following the attack, yet it accurately depicts the American response.
I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve.Isoroku Yamamoto
Tora! Tora! Tora!
The American people completely mobilized in response to the attacks on Pearl Harbor and I’m not just talking about the military. Americas labor markets witnessed tens of millions of individuals leaving the service and agricultural sectors to support the industrial mobilization of the war effort. We need only look at the increase in tank production to demonstrate this.
Directly following Pearl Harbor, American Tank production increased by almost 6X what was produced the year prior. That number almost doubled the following year. Granted, we had a head start in 1942 due to the fact that a mad man was trying to kill an entire race of people half the world away. Yet at the conclusion of 1943 our nation had completely mobilized to support the war effort.
The Civil War is the greatest loss of life our nation has ever witnessed. Brother killed brother, and blood poured out right here on American soil. It may be the darkest time in our nation’s history. Man fighting man over the right to enslave fellow man. Some of us would like to argue it was a war over states rights. However, history demonstrates that the confederacy created some of the largest sweeping legislations to enact federal power following their succession. I find it hard to believe a group of rebels heading to war against their brethren over anti-federalism would enact sweeping federal policy. If so, it is one of the biggest contradictions on earth.
The infant country that became too big for its britches should have crumbled under such horrid circumstances. Yet our leader, who would go on to become a martyr, took an opportunity during his second inaugural address (within days of Union victory) to set the tone for how American’s would respond to years of bloodshed they had no one to blame for but themselves.
With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.Abraham Lincoln
Second Inaugural Address
Binding up the nation’s wounds wasn’t as easy as we all hoped it would be. Many would argue some of those wounds are still fresh. Regardless our nation overcame. We passed an amendment to protect the rights of citizens, To protect from discrimination based on race, color, and eventually sex. Yet Americans laid the foundation for being a group to persevere.
Many of us revere the signers of the Declaration of Independence. Others despise them as slave-holding Americans. I view them as individuals willing to take on an amazing responsibility in a desire to free their nation from oppression. Take for example the faits of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. Of the 56 men that signed the Declaration:
Five were captured by the British as traitors.
Twelve had their homes ransacked and burned due to the War.
One lost two of his sons serving in the Continental Army.
One had two sons captured by the British as POWs.
Richard Stockton specifically was dragged from his bed by night by local Tories and imprisoned in New York City’s Provost Jail.
It is up for debate who he instructed (Washington or Lafayette) but Thomas Nelson had to urge troops to fire on his own home which had been captured by the British.
Sacrifice is something that has long been a part of American Culture because it initiated with these men. Who willingly put their nation in harms way in the hopes of a better outcome. One that resulted in a tiny nation taking on the greatest army in the world and giving them the taste of defeat.
Our nation is on that unites under adversity. One that responds by taking action where they can have the greatest impact on changing outcomes. One that is willing to persevere and of course sacrifice when necessary. I have no fear that the American people will persevere through any outcomes of the COVID-19 pandemic because I am a student of history.
John McCarthy is a Father, Son, Husband and former Marine Infantry Officer. He serves his local community and just wants to push people to be better humans. Check out the Tough Talk Podcast and other writings on this website to learn more.