Every Independence Day is a day for me to step away from the distractions of our busy lives and personally reflect upon the truly amazing history of our country. I think about the ragtag bunch of brave souls who stood up against the most powerful military in the world, motivated by little more than a mere chance of possibly securing a subjective concept generally known as “freedom.” The degree of personal sacrifice under some of the worst circumstances imaginable is virtually impossible to fully appreciate from our generation’s comfy, secure perspective.
My thinking meanders through the years and gets to the big turning points like World War II and the rise and fall of the Soviet Union. It’s impossible not to wonder how horrible the world would be today if not for American resolve to protect this hard-won freedom and to stop the spread of evil and tyranny in other places whenever possible. Of course, it still all goes back to what Thomas Paine described as those “times that try men’s souls” during our fight for independence. Without those men rising to the challenge, there would have been no America to ride to the rescue on so many occasions.
Fortunately for all of us, Jefferson was a student of history like few others. That helped him form the foundation of the greatest and freest country the world has ever known.While this period of great celebration of our independence inspires me, it also reminds me of what is likely my single greatest concern: The general lack of education with regard to American history by many who reside in our country today is like a cancer spreading throughout a body, corrupting the integrity of essential life systems.
If you randomly stop 20-something-year-olds on the streets today and ask if they know anything about the contributions of Thomas Jefferson, James Madison or Benjamin Franklin, chances are good that in many cases you will get nothing more than a blank stare between nervous glances at whatever social media distracts them on their mobile phone that day.
Fortunately for all of us, Jefferson was a student of history like few others. That helped him form the foundation of the greatest and freest country the world has ever known. He knew what had been tried in the past and what had failed. America needed something new. He also wrote, “If a nation expects to be both ignorant and free in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be.” Our growing ignorance should be a warning siren blaring in our ears. A terrible storm is on the horizon.
Should it be any surprise to us when the majority of emotional numbskulls operating the so-called “mainstream” media report farcically silly things as historical fact, knowing they are likely to do so with impunity? What’s not so lucky for those of us who care about individual freedom is that some of the best examples pertain to the Second Amendment. Many in the media routinely claim that “the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed” really means “the right of the government.” Those founding fathers were just a little too careless with the words they chose back in those days, you know? The elites today know what those old guys really meant.
The historically ignorant often claim that those men born nearly three centuries ago could have never imagined the kind of technological advancements made in firearms manufacturing. They want us to believe that only the muskets used in that era were contemplated by those considering the Second Amendment because those men somehow believed technology of all stripes remains stagnant through time. However ridiculous claims like this are when put into historical context, they seem to be believed more often by an accepting, gullible public.
Too many of our fellow citizens lack the ability to think critically. When they hear claims like these, why don’t they ask themselves if there are any other sections in the Constitution or Bill of Rights where the word “people” is considered synonymous with “government” or “state?” When they hear simpletons claim that the right to arms does not protect modern arms that look scary to them, do they ask whether the First Amendment protects speech on the Internet or whether the Fourth Amendment protects documents stored in the Cloud?
Without a great appreciation of history and the kind of sacrifice made by our founding fathers, it is easy to dismiss much of what they secured for us. Many pansies being reared today seem to be ready to squander their firearms freedoms because some bad people occasionally do bad things with guns.
Without a great appreciation of history and the kind of sacrifice made by our founding fathers, it is easy to dismiss much of what they secured for us.It’s as if Madison and the others could have never imagined that there might be some cost associated with trusting free people with liberties enjoyed by few other populations anywhere on the planet. Certainly, they could not have thought that the benefits experienced by a free people would far outweigh any associated costs, right?
As the thinking of the radical left goes, free speech should be curtailed and censored because some say and write mean and dangerous things. The freedom from warrantless searches allows too many bad people to not be arrested, so it needs to be taken less seriously. Due process isn’t really all that important if a right in jeopardy isn’t one that is popular with today’s Hollywood stars. Times have changed, so these antiquated concepts must change with them, they believe.
The historically ignorant think the best way to accomplish this is to simply reinterpret things willy-nilly as we go. They can do this with a clear conscience because they never think about the pain, anguish and challenge brought by the winter of 1777. They wouldn’t know or care about the fact that the founders were actually humble and brilliant enough to accept that changes to our system of government would be needed and, therefore, created a process whereby the Constitution could be changed. It’s a difficult path, but that is by design. People have to care for it to matter, though, and it’s hard for ignorant people to care.
The battle to educate our future generations is the battle to preserve our republic. We may be losing it, but there is still hope with organizations like the Joe Foss Institute. Foss was a man like few others. He was a WWII ace, a Medal of Honor recipient, a governor and past president of the NRA. Oh, he also pretty much created the Super Bowl, but no big deal. I’m also lucky enough to know personally that he was a kind, great man who loved his country. No one could ever “out-patriot” Joe.
General Foss knew that to preserve our country’s rich history was to preserve our country. Because of this, he and his wife, Donna, established the Institute. Among other things, it provides free educational materials to schools, organizations and anyone else willing to take and use them to enlighten youth regarding civics and history. He wanted his Greatest Generation to have a chance to be challenged if the call should ever come again.
Foss and his wife stepped up to try to make a difference like they had time and time again. The Joe Foss Institute is certainly worth supporting as you consider charitable contributions. But we can also make a difference on our own. All parents should actively challenge their children’s schools to make sure they are being taught history, and not in the shameful manner that our immediately past president from Chicago might teach it.
Whether parents or not, we can all take the time to regularly talk with children in our lives about why America is exceptional. Hearing stories from the adults around me when I was very young was the thing that most motivated me to study history as aggressively as I have throughout my lifetime.
An ignorant citizenry will squander its freedoms for convenience or some sense of security. Our cherished Second Amendment rights are most vulnerable to this phenomenon because of the overwhelming emotion consuming those who advocate reading it into obscurity, including, most prominently, the press. That is why we, as gun rights advocates, also must be advocates of education beyond the kind dealing with a gun muzzle and where it should and should not be pointing.
Darren LaSorte lobbied with NRA-ILA for 14 years and now lives and works in Dallas. His passions are shooting, hunting and self-defense training.