Ted Stillwell: Proud to be an American
In these times of trouble and strife it might do us good to take a look backward. The men and women of early Missouri must have been a very proud people; they must have been proud of their freedoms and of their independence. At the very least, they were surely proud to be Americans.
The town names of Liberty and Independence, Missouri sound very patriotic to me! A good indication, I would think, of just how patriotic those people must have been – at least those who were responsible for naming Liberty and Independence. Still, it kind of makes you wonder what happened to Freedom and Justice, or possibly Constitution, Kansas doesn’t it?
America was founded on many appealing aspects and freedoms, such as freedom of speech and freedom of religion, and especially, freedom from oppression by a strong government. Throughout history men have struggled for freedom and justice and the right to govern themselves. In many countries today, these ideals have never been achieved. But, in the United States they are the very foundation of our government and our way of living.
We are proud of the democracy and of the freedom for which America stands. Liberty has been strong in the hearts of Americans from the time the first colonists came to our shores. Our well-loved song “America” calls our country “sweet land of liberty” and speaks of “freedom’s song” and “freedom’s holy light.”
Liberty is and always has been the very spirit of America. It was written into our Declaration of Independence and into our Constitution. Our Constitution with its Bill of Rights, as you know, guarantees us individual liberties that no man or government can take away. Indeed, liberty is part of our way of life.
It means the right to vote and hold office, and our right to free speech and religion. It means our right to take sides on any question and to stand up for what we believe. Liberty is our birthright and the most prized possession.
Life in America was seen as freedom of religious beliefs for many, and freedom from religion for others. There were many religious clans, such as the Pilgrims and Quakers. However, not all groups arriving in America were religious clans; in fact, some were simply the poor, looking for a new start, and some were even ruthless prisoners expelled from their homelands.
We Americans are different from other people of the world in another very important way. In England for example, most people are of English blood. Their ancestors have for centuries lived in England. The same thing holds true for Germany, France, Iraq or almost any other country you might name. But we Americans do not come from one stock. We are descended from people of many nationalities.
These forefathers of ours came to America because they wanted freedom and better lives for themselves and their children. They thought that in the new and unsettled America they would find opportunities they did not have back in their old homelands. Only courageous people would leave family and friends to settle in far-off lands.
We are proud of our ancestors, whose courage and love of liberty brought them across the seas to America. No matter where they came from, they became Americans, loyal to the country that had given them freedom and opportunity. We believe that our country is stronger and richer and more vigorous because our people came from other lands and so many different backgrounds.
To reach Ted W. Stillwell send an email to Ted@blueandgrey.com or call him at 816-896-3592