Jimmy Stewart: Look! There it is!
Eugene Pallette: What? Who?
Jimmy Stewart: The Capitol Dome!
That three second scene from Frank Capra's movie, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, encapsulates the way you and I feel about America. I guess we learned our patriotism at Mr. Smith's knee.
Now, some people go through life "all wised up" as Jean Arthur says in the movie. Cynical. Gritty. They're the ones who growl, "America was never great" and are keen to destroy the glow of glory surrounding our national heroes by telling us how bad they really were. What a sad way of living!
I'm not made that way and neither are you. When it comes to America, we're pure idealists because America is herself an Ideal.
Like Jimmy Stewart in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, I believe the word "America" should always glow in our minds, always bring a lump to the throat, always conjure an image of a shining city on a hill.
Generations come, generations go. America the Ideal always remains. Always striving, sometimes misstepping, correcting her course, always progressing. Sometimes glowing bright, sometimes dimmer. But always inching closer and closer to that Ideal dreamt by our Founding Fathers and encapsulated in our beloved Declaration of Independence, Constitution and Bill of Rights.
As Jimmy Stewart said...
Boys forget what their country means
by just reading "the land of the free" in history books.
Then they get to be men--
they forget even more.
Liberty is too precious a thing
to be buried in books....
Men should hold it up in front of them--
every day of their lives and say:
"I'm free--to think--to speak.
My ancestors couldn't.
And my children will."
The boys outta grow up remembering that.
Every Election Year reminds us to "hold it up in front of" us and marvel that we are "free--to think and to speak. My ancestors couldn't. I can."
Just as Jimmy Stewart (as Mr. Smith) discovered in the movie, it's a very few people...corrupt, greedy, evil people...who betray the American ideal.
America herself never betrays. Never wavers. Never lets you down.
She's steadfast as the Plymouth Rock, as the beachheads of Normandy, as General McAuliffe who responded to a Nazi surrender demand with one pithy word: "NUTS!"
America is the greatest experiment in How Human Life Should Be Lived in the history of mankind. As such, naturally she's been attacked from all sides, by enemies foreign and enemies domestic. She has wounds and scars. Yet she still stands strong and "lift[s] [her] lamp beside the golden door."
George H. W. Bush called the New World Order a "Big Idea." Fiddlesticks! What a small idea! It's been batted around by every tin-horn tyrant since the dawn of civilization and it never goes well. You'd think they'd have learned by now.
America: Now that IS a Big Idea. We may disagree on the minutiae of exactly how things should be done, but we carry the soul of America in our souls. That is where America truly resides: in our souls.
America has great monuments.
America has great songs.
America has Old Glory.
America has great treasure, endless national resources and 3,531,905 square miles of land from sea to shining sea.
But America isn't something you can touch, see, sing, feel or sell.
America is the divine spark of the Ideal held in the soul of every man, woman and child who is in awe of the immeasurable gift of being American and treasures their personal freedom. America is everyone who stands for the Flag and kneels at the Cross.
That is why America survives.
You can't cheat enough to destroy her.
You can't sell her to China.
You can't burn her down.
You can't bomb her out of existence because you're only attacking the brick-and-mortar manifestation of an Ideal in millions of souls and the soul can never be killed.
As Gary Cooper said in Meet John Doe:
...that this nation, under God,
shall have a new birth of freedom --
and that government of the people,
by the people, for the people,
shall not perish from the earth.
Wife, caregiver, writer, patriot. Click here to learn more about me, my husband Michael and his courageous battle against terminal lung disease.