HONOLULU, October 20, 2012 — As presidential candidates make their closing arguments and final appeals for your vote, let us remember that no matter what happens on November 6th, the future of this great nation rests solely in the hands of the people of the United States of America.
Who we elect and send to Washington D.C. will represent America, but it is up to all of us as informed and active citizens to lead America by example right here in our own city councils, state legislatures and neighborhoods.
Admiral Hyman G. Rickover, the father of the U.S. nuclear navy once remarked “Responsibility is a unique concept … You may share it with others, but your portion is not diminished. You may delegate it, but it is still with you … If responsibility is rightfully yours, no evasion, or ignorance or passing the blame can shift the burden to someone else.” For too long we have pointed fingers at politicians for what they have done and failed to look in the mirror for what we ourselves have not done. An election can only supplement but never substitute the virtues of citizen initiative and personal responsibility.
America’s strength, prestige and honor have always been drawn not from ancient marble buildings in Washington D.C., but from the reservoirs of love, courage and spiritual fortitude found in its people. It is private values, personal sweat and individual tears that built America and held the line during our darkest and most difficult moments. While it is tempting for some to hand over complete and total administration and planning of every aspect of America to “smart, tough and competent people we can trust” in government, our nation can only find its brightest and best days when led by We, the people of the United States.
Friends, consider this: most, if not all of us remember our days in elementary school when we dressed up as Pilgrims and recited the Mayflower Compact, or memorized the Declaration of Independence and studied the causes of the American Revolution. We know all too well the great devotions that led our Founding Fathers to sacrifice themselves upon the altar of freedom, loving the cause of liberty and the hope of a Republic more than their own lives.
We know by heart the words “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” With such a legacy and so great a cloud of patriotic witnesses, it is time for us to stop being merely hearers of these words and become doers of those words, putting them into practice and leading America from our hometowns.
This election should be seen as a beginning, but not an ending to our pursuit of change and reform. These are dark days that we are living in and it will take every single one of us – not just our representatives in Washington D.C. – to be the light that leads America to a future worthy of our children and their children to come. America is at war. Our currency is in crisis. Our cities are filled with growing ranks of homeless and hopeless alike. They say we are witnessing the rise of a lost generation, but I say it is time for this lost generation to get saved and stand once more in the honor and prestige that is the birthright of all who are free.
Here in Hawaii, I am reminded of the story of a man by the name of Francis Flaherty who enlisted in the Naval Reserve and at age 22 was an ensign stationed aboard the USS Oklahoma when Japanese fighterplanes attacked Pearl Harbor on the morning of December 7, 1941. Three torpedoes struck his ship, knocking out power and causing Oklahoma to flood and capsize. In the cold, darkened and quickly flooding turret compartment, Ensign Flaherty’s first instinct was to reach for a flashlight and turn it on to point the way of escape for his fellow enlisted sailors. He stood his post even as the waters rose, dying with his flashlight on. For his gallantry, he was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.
My question is this: what is your first instinct as the waters rise on America’s future? Will you stand on principle and light the flashlight of courage, honor and truth?
Let us remember the courage of men like Francis Flaherty, Dorie Miller, Martin Treptow, Robert Gould Shaw, Nathan Hale and so many patriots who lived and died for our more perfect union. As the prophet Isaiah of the Bible said, “Hearken to me … and look to the rock from which you were hewn.” It is time to look to the past and draw courage for the future we must build. Everett Hale reminds us, “I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. What I can do, I should do and, with the help of God, I will do.”
This election is a beginning, not an end. And America, no matter who wins, remember this is your Nation and your responsibility. We who have seen the worst of days must resolve to be America’s best in her time of maximum need. Make our children proud!
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