Of all the many nations that have appeared and disappeared throughout the history of the world; among all the countries, customs and tongues, the nation most unique of them all is the United States of America. We sometimes call this uniqueness “American exceptionalism.” We aren’t exceptional in the normal sense of that word—we have an Army, a Navy, and an Air Force, a language, and the rule of law. We are exceptional in a unique way in which we have all those features that form a continuation of Christian/Western Civilization. We are a continuation, we have antecedents, we are, however, unique in the way we continue them. No one has done what we do, nor has the world seen a nation like these United States.
A new nation “brought forth on this continent . . . conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.” A “government of the people, by the people, for the people, [that] shall not perish from the earth.”
No one has said it better. And the men and women who have served our country have by serving preserved the unique heritage that is our birthright on the American continent.
Whether on the field of Gettysburg or on the Normandy shore, the neat rows of white stones speak to us as a remembrance of what we ought not to forget—ever.
I went to a Veteran’s Day assembly at the high school yesterday, Thursday. It was a kindness I should not forget, and as the students read out the names and the vets stood, they made their testimonial that is as eloquent as any and a truth bequeathed to those high school students who will, soon enough, put on the uniforms that have rendered fitting service to a grateful nation.
It is rightly said that there are no atheists in a foxhole. We could say as well that there is no one who has never been afraid whether on the land, or the sea, or in the air.
The branch in which I was privileged to serve, the Coast Guard, has its own saying: “You have to go out, you don’t have to come back.” But come back we do trailing the “mystic chords of memory”, keeping faith, binding golden threads of a noble reminiscence into the uniforms of the men and women who keep us safe and free.
Which is why so many of us find it offensive that a well-compensated footballer will take a knee at the moment that the notes of our anthem sound from our stadiums across this land that we love. It betrays an ignorance so profound as to be baffling. It is an insult to the soldiers, sailors, and airmen who have risked all and paid the price just so that spoiled adults could think it a noble gesture of protest to refuse to respect the flag for which so many have bled and whose blood flows in our veins preserving that singular heritage of love and law.