The rock of America's past is the hope for America's future

Will my children be able to enjoy the kind of life that I have seen, or will the America that I remember be lost forever?
Photo: Raising the flag / James Picht

WASHINGTON, October 7, 2013 — The story of America is wide-sweeping, both dramatic and compelling. Each wave of immigrants and each generation has its own story to tell. These stories have been woven into the fabric of America, speaking to us of escapes from poverty and oppression, with nothing more than pluck, brains, and hard work. Each generation has known sorrow and joy, but it has always believed that, just as things are better for us than for our parents, they will also be better for our children.

Through these stories we know who we are, and that knowledge is a comfort. It is also power, motivating us to do better. Our history is security. 

Our roots and our ancestry — our heritage — have molded our lives. They have given us a rock on which to stand, and that rock is the heart of America. Religion and faith are a part of that rock. We have passed them down with our stories from one generation to the next. “The rock our fathers planted for us in this goodly land” has been unmoveable and secure.

There is no greater gift one generation can leave to the next than the knowledge of who we were and who we are, and the confidence to go on to be better. 

This is true for families, not just for nations. Landmarks and familiar places, the giant live oak we climbed as children, our favorite fishing holes, the places we went on vacation, the times when we struggled to make ends meet and the times of plenty, the time we went with our parents to look at Christmas lights and marvel at the wonder of the season — these are the memories that turn parents and children into families. Stories of immigrants and pioneers bind us together as a people, but our smaller, more personal family stories help bind us to the great American experience.

As the years have passed and the political climate has changed, so have our values. “Who we are” seems less important to many of us than “what I want.” The heritage so many of us held so dear has been traded for a mess of potage and designer shoes. Many of us wonder, will my children get to share and enjoy the stories I did? Will they care about our heritage? Or will the America that I remember be lost forever?

Will my children have the freedom to enjoy the Christmas lights? Will they have the freedom to worship as I did?

Will the trees we climbed make way for highways or supermarkets? Will our Civil War battlefields become new locations for Target and Walmart?

Some of us are jealous of our heritage and dreams and hopes for the future; we are not about to let them slip away. Their importance to the American dream is too deep. Whether we come from the Deep South or the Pacific coast, from the Rocky Mountains or New England, this is our country, a land where hope for the future is built on memory of the past and the dreams of our parents.

There seems to be an awakening in America, a renewed hope of better things arising from our disappointments over what we’ve lost. Now is a time to restore the once sacred wisdom of the Constitution of the United States. Without it, we are losing our way and losing the freedom to pass on a better life to our children. We have moved from self-reliance and hard work to handouts and the free lunch. Honesty and pride of achievement have taken a back seat to self pity and laziness. 

Those who so jealously guard their hopes and dreams see another foe in the making, political and religious ideologies which are totally foreign and toxic to the American way of life. We can celebrate diversity in new immigrants of all faiths and beliefs, but they must graft their beliefs onto our roots, not the other way around. To treat them as fundamental is to commit national suicide.

Some changes are good. Not all that is old is valuable. We grow into a better people by growing up from our roots, not back down to meet them. The past is our launching pad, not our destination. But let us not give up the solid rock of our faith, our families and our Constitution. They are the hope for tomorrows that are always better than our yesterdays.

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George Weir

George Weir is a guest writer for Communities

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