America is Exceptional
Brad Johnson, Politics Contributor
With today being one of our nation’s most sacred (if not the most sacred) holidays, I feel it is appropriate to reflect on this nation of states, united under one flag. A topic of this magnitude deserves an honest approach that does not solely consist of “God, guns, glory, and ‘Murica!” Let me first offer this proposition: America is the most exceptional country to ever grace the face of the Earth. Now allow me to support it.
Oftentimes the idea of “American Exceptionalism” is followed by an intense, but highly unintellectual attack on its suggestion, and an equally unintellectual defense of it. In the interest of being factually accurate, great evils have existed within the boundaries of our land that stretches from the Atlantic to the Pacific. Organizations like the Ku Klux Klan, the American Eugenics Society, the Knights of the Golden Circle, the Know-Nothing Party, and the Weather Underground all promulgated severe villainy during their existence. Institutions like slavery, segregation, and the displacement of American Indians exist as lasting stains on the American legacy. Yet these evils are not uniquely American, but instead are rather abject features of the human condition and this imperfect world in which we live.
These United States of America are responsible for the most significant advancement of individual liberty in the entirety of history. The first step was taken in Lexington, Massachusetts at the feet of rag-tag militiamen, shortly followed by the signing of the Declaration of Independence within the walls of Independence Hall. The next was secured in 1789, as our Constitutional Republic became cemented into existence. Seven decades later, incapable of further delay, the next step was taken. The foremost example of a war fought to end slavery started at Fort Sumter, and ended at Appomattox Courthouse. Its legacy endures on within the text of the 13th and 14th Amendments, and is memorialized on the hills and plains of Gettysburg.
Again, when confronted with sufficient repression, the next step was taken. In 1920, America’s 19th Amendment was ratified into law, which, as I’m sure America’s second First Lady would agree, was far too late but welcome nonetheless. A short two decades later, America would lead a coalition against one of the greatest evils ever conceived on this Earth. From the beaches of Normandy, to the cliffs of Iwo Jima, evil was driven back into the depths of Hell from which it emanated.
Thus began America’s crusade against another evil: Communism. With Europe recovering from its decimation, the United States stood largely alone in opposition to Vladimir Lenin and Joseph Stalin’s red plague. The Cold War was a long drawn-out standoff, but eventually East and West Berlin saw themselves united upon the fall of the Iron Curtain. Despite the large focus placed on foreign affairs, domestic headway marched on. The passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1963 put the final nail in Jim Crow’s coffin. It was a long time coming, but come it did.
America watched as its next great adversity ensued with the crumbling of the World Trade Center and assault on the Pentagon. Few instances before have united the citizens of this country we all call home like the one I vividly remember watching through the eyes of a first-grader. Whatever your opinion of the War on Terror, the acts of heroism exhibited in the following days, months and years by our soldiers, first-responders, and ordinary citizens will be remembered for all of recorded history.
Never before has a nation founded by “we the people,” upon principles of limited government, and with declaration that “all men are created equal” with a stark commitment to the rights to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” accomplished so much for mankind. Our leaders have forgone king-like power, preserved the Union at great cost, and faced down pure evil in times of crisis. American Exceptionalism is a supposition that carries great controversy, yet its truth exists as objective fact rather than subjective opinion.
America is not exceptional because it’s simply America. She is exceptional because of the sacrifices made, beliefs professed, and principles founded upon. Our 40th President once said that “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same.” The exceptionalism of America is a choice. One that our forefathers have chosen to preserve with every fiber of their being. We face that same choice. The torch has been passed onto us. We now assume that responsibility past generations cherished enough to bestow onto their heirs. American Exceptionalism is not passed through the bloodstream, but rather, the conscience.
Follow this author on Twitter: @bradjCincy
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