Renewing the American Spirit

Patriot Week begins on 9/11 and ends on 9/17 (the anniversary of the signing of the Constitution (Constitution Day)) and renews America’s spirit by celebrating the First Principles, Founding Fathers and other Patriots, vital documents and speeches, and flags that make America the greatest nation in world history. Many of current holidays have become overly commercialized or have lost their deeper meaning. We need to invigorate our appreciation and understanding of America’s spirit. This blog is dedicated to keeping the spirit of Patriot Week - and America - alive all year long.....

Thursday, April 28, 2011

“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” Abraham Lincoln.

Lincoln's statement is simply profound. Today, it has become nearly commonplace to learn  about how certain individuals have overcome adversity - be it broken homes, illness, job losses, poor schools, physical ailments, addictions, and other maladies.  Those people are rightfully applauded for becoming successful by overcoming their challenges.  They are exemplars and should be emulated.

What you don't read about often is about the men and women who wield power and decline to use or abuse it. Of course, too often we learn about abuses and corruptions of power.  Some such "leaders" are across the globe - witness North Korea, Cuba, Libya, and elsewhere; some are too close for comfort - witness Detroit's ex-mayor and the disgraced former governors of New York and Illinois.

What we should keep in mind - and they are indeed a vanishing breed - are the men and women who are given great power, and use it responsibly - or even more rarely - refuse to exercise it - to allow for liberty to flourish. 

America was founded on the premise of limited government - that men and women are endowed by their Creator with unalienable rights, and that the purpose of government is to protect those rights. We must remember that the power to do good is also the power to do evil. That sometimes the most courageous exercise of power is to refuse to wield it. That sometimes people must be allowed to go their own way; that the spark of freedom is in much having the ability to strive and fail than anything else. As Lincoln said, the true test of character is to see what one does - or does not do - with power.

Don't forget to visit Patriot Week

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Jamestown: The Spirit of America Sets Sail

Today marks the 404th anniversary of the departure of the Discovery, Godspeed, and Susan Constant to what eventually became Jamestown.  The 104 colonists that arrived in modern day Virginia eventually founded Jamestown -  the first permanent English settlement in North America.

Dr. Joseph Warren, a leading Patriot in Boston with John Adams, Samuel Adams, and John Hancock, eloquently explained what motivated the Jamestown and subsequent settlers:

Our fathers having nobly resolved never to wear the yoke of despotism, and seeing the European world, at the time, through indolence and cowardice, failing a prey to tyranny, bravely threw themselves upon the bosom of the ocean, determined to find a place in which they might enjoy their freedom, or perish in the glorious attempt. Approving heaven beheld the favourite ark dancing upon the waves, and graciously preserved it until the chosen families were brought in safety to these western regions.

As we know, the going at Jamestown was miserable, and many lost their lives.  Eventually, however, their persistence in the face of famine, disease, and clashes with Native Americans led to success and a thriving colony.

This spirit of determination for liberty eventually paved the way for the creation of the American republic.  We are now the ark of freedom for the world.  And we owe it to those who came before us to secure the ark for future generations.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Detroit - Important at the Founding and Important Today

"I took the liberty of suggesting the propriety . . . of paying particular attention to the French and other Settlers at Detroit . . . " George Washington (1783).

Washington's particular attention was a prophetic clarion call of the need to pay attention to Detroit.  It has often the harbinger of things to come.  Once a backwater fort, it became the arsenal of democracy and revolutionized the world with mass production. It built a middle class by giving the working class fair wages and working conditions, and established world class cultural institutions, schools, and universities.

Through its trials and tribulations, Detroit has become the symbol of all of what is right - and wrong - about America.  Today, much of it is crumbling. But its spirit is strong, and even a cursory glance at the city reveals that there are many signs of hope and renewal. New developments are springing up across the city, cultural institutions are adapting to new realities, new superior schools are operating, and pockets of urban vibrancy are on the upswing.

To help in these efforts, Patriot Week is launching its kick-off, and 10th anniversary commemoration of 9/11, at Detroit's Historic Fort Wayne - a magnificent 1840s era fort on the Detroit river. If in all its adversity Detroit can be the center of a renewal of the American spirit, then surely the rest of the nation can follow. What will save Detroit will save America.  Join Patriot Week and renew America.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Monday, April 11, 2011

Long Live King James I

Yesterday, in 1606, King James I issued a charter to the London Company for it to establish colonies in the New World.  Little did he reckon the fruits that charter would yield - a violent revolution, founded on the First Principles of liberty - leading to the splintering of Great Britain, as well as the greatest nation the world has ever seen.  Those of us basking in liberty today owe no small measure of gratitude to the English monarch of centuries ago.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Keep Swinging!

Today marks the anniversary of Hank Aaron breaking Babe Ruth's home run record.  Hammerin' Hank reflected that "My motto was always to keep swinging. Whether I was in a slump or feeling badly or having trouble off the field, the only thing to do was to keep swinging."

Aaron's motto could accurately be dubbed America's motto. The American spirit has always included persistence, determination, and optimism in face of daunting odds. When we declared independence, it was against the greatest empire the world had ever seen. With a ragtag army, stationed on the outskirts of civilization, we were able to defeat the great military might of the British Empire.

We prevailed again in the War of 1812, survived the cataclysm of the Civil War, beat back German imperialism in WWI, and defeated Nazi Germany and imperial Japan in WWII. All the while, our future was not certain - but our determination to prevail was.

Today times are very tough - but with the right spirit, we have won in tougher times. We need to renew the American spirit - through efforts like Patriot Week  - to ensure we continue to win in the future.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Americanism and Threats to America

"Americanism means the virtues of courage, honor, justice, truth, sincerity and hardihood - the things that made America. The things that will destroy America are prosperity for any price, peace at any price, safety first instead of duty first, the love of soft living, and the get-rich-quick theory of life." President Theodore Roosevelt.

Although one might debate the words, the sentiments reflect enduring truths about America. America, after all, is as much an ideal as a place. Our founding First Principles - equality, unalienable rights, the Social Compact, the rule of law, limited government and the right to alter or abolish an oppressive government - are what bind us together. The virtues described by Teddy Roosevelt are the ways that those First Principles became realities - it takes courage to fight for freedom, it takes sincerity to believe in freedom, it takes honor to live for freedom. And the threats to our liberty mostly involve not putting first things first. Indeed, our liberty is most threatened when we put easy choices - or just ease of living - ahead of what really matters.

A quick look around puts shudders down my spine. How much time and energy, for example, has been wasted on Charlie Sheen? We should be focused on what really matters, not the trivial. Do your part, embrace the important and shun the trivial and banal.

Monday, April 4, 2011

King's Dream Still Lives

Today marks the 43rd anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr by James Earl Ray. Although many of us are too young to remember King while living, his legacy still burns brightly in the national consciousness.

King bravely led the civil rights struggle for racial equality to new heights.  He reminded our nation that the First Principle of equality articulated in our Declaration of Independence - that "all men are created equal" - had not yet been fulfilled.  King's efforts led to the passage of historic civil rights acts that ensured racial equality in voting, employment, and public accommodations.

Although he was slain, he remains a great inspiration to new generations of Americans. That is not to say that the struggle for equality has ended - we have much progress to go - but we should acknowledge with great reverence the sacrifices of the generations before us as we look forward to fulling the pledge of equality.

In addition, King's life expresses what it is to be an American - to have the ability to assemble, speak, and publish freely about the issues of the day - and to challenge the government in its most basic policies.  In most nations in history - and many today (witness China, Burma, Cuba, North Korea, Iran, Libya) - these basic unalienable rights have been and are denied by oppressive governments.

These are the reasons, among other reasons, that Patriot Week celebrates Martin Luther King, Jr. on September 15.  Join us at

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Welcome to the Refreshed Patriot Week Blog

There are about 160 days before Patriot Week begins this year, and we have been working earnestly to have an even greater Patriot Week this year than the last two. We are aggressively expanding our on-line presence with, among other things, our Facebook page and improving this website. Check in often as this site will work year around to renew the spirit of America.