At a critical moment during the Revolutionary War, when his army was surrounded and in danger of being destroyed, General George Washington issued this order, "Put only Americans on guard …
At a critical moment during the Revolutionary War, when his army was surrounded and in danger of being destroyed, General George Washington issued this order, "Put only Americans on guard tonight."
As I have studied American history over the years, I have come to realize that what the general was talking about were those volunteer citizen-soldiers who had left their families and farms and all they owned to risk everything for the cause of freedom. There were 55 men who signed the Declaration of Independence, and here are the final words of that Declaration, "And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor."
Using these thoughts as a backdrop, have you ever thought about what it means to be a true American? Our nation has survived for almost 241 years since the Declaration of Independence was signed back on July 4, 1776, and we have faced many challenges, including two world wars. Even with a bloody nose, we are still standing strong and free. One of the things that made us the greatest nation in the history of the world is a set of fundamental values that have evolved over time and have set us apart from all others.
These values can be seen very clearly in something a friend sent me the other day titled, "You Might be a True American if." It goes on to list a number of character traits and values that are the bedrock of our society. This is really a take-off on the “Redneck” humor that comedian Jeff Foxworthy made famous a while back.
If you are not familiar with Redneck humor, here are a couple of examples: You might be a Redneck if you mowed your front lawn and discovered three cars you did not know were there. You might be a Redneck if you took a gallon of paint and climbed to the top of the water tower to defend your sister's honor. There are countless others, but you get the idea.
As I share the following thoughts, I hope you will think about each one and what it means.
You might be a true American if: It never occurred to you to be offended by the phrase, "One nation, under God." You might be a True American if: You've never protested about seeing the 10 Commandments posted in public places. You might be a True American if: You still say "Christmas" instead of "Winter Festival." You might be a True American if: You bow your head when someone prays. You might be a True American if: You stand and place your hand over your heart when they play the National Anthem.
You might be a True American if: You treat Vietnam vets with great respect, and always have. You might be a True American if: You've never burned the American flag. You might be a True American if: You know what you believe and aren't afraid to say so, no matter who is listening. You might be a True American if: You respect your elders and expect your kids to do the same. You might be a True American if: You would give your last dollar to a friend.
Well, how about it? Using these values and traits as a standard, would you consider yourself to be a “True American”? As I said earlier, these did not come about over night, but rather they evolved slowly over time as part of our culture.
My purpose here is certainly not to question anyone's patriotism. Only God really and truly knows our heart. However, we are judged by our words, our actions and the company we keep. In these days as we face the global threat of terrorism, it really comes down to who we want to win.
If you don't think we are in a war, just try to get on an airplane, as I did a few weeks ago. Personally, I believe it's time to quit worrying about being politically correct and seek truth and righteousness, as this is the best hope we have for a bright and lasting future. To quote General Washington again, "Put only Americans on guard tonight."
(Editor’s Note: Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. He may be contacted at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, Ark. 72034. To support literacy, buy his book, "Learning, Earning & Giving Back.")
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