Not so long ago I was visiting Boston with a friend. We were walking through one of the most fascinating parts of the city. It is called the Old Granary Burial Ground. Laid inside are some of the nation’s most well known figures. Paul Revere, John Hancock and Benjamin Franklin’s parents are just a few.
As my friend and I walked past Paul Revere’s grave marker, she mentioned that she really didn’t see the big deal with Revere since all he had done was ride a horse and shout a sentence.
I don’t know if she was serious. I don’t think she was. What I do know for certain was that her statement sparked within me a response that has never died down.
It is not a leap of the imagination to see that many people in America today doubt that America is a great nation. People wish we were less assertive, less involved with world affairs. Or, should we stay involved, people wish we would take a less dominant role.
Furthermore, there are not many people writing about America’s greatness, not to mention that not many people are writing in support of America’s greatness. People won’t write about it because pride is seen as arrogance, and aspirations for greatness are seen as looking down on other nations.
These people have forgotten what America is. I strongly believe that they sold the real vision of America for a more comfortable version. A version that says we are just like every other nation, no better, no worse. A version that says we have no right to pretend to be the good guys because even if there was a good guy, how are we so sure we are it?
What people have forgotten, like my friend in the cemetery, is what this nation began as. What this nation has accomplished, in such a short time, has never been done before. When Paul Revere warned Samuel Adams and John Hancock that the British regulars were headed for them, he was warning of the greatest army headed for a few rebels.
These few rebels, our Founding Fathers as they are sometimes called, created a nation never before seen in the world. They were not just some disgruntled band of elites who created their own power base. These men created a nation that led the way in freedoms of almost every kind, a nation that inspired other peoples to get their freedom for years to come. America didn’t stop there. It grew from 13 struggling states on the Atlantic to a vast land stretching to the Pacific. Then America began influencing nations and powers that had been around for centuries. America was the only nation capable of standing up to the Soviet Union when it was bent on spreading worldwide revolution and it is the most staunch opponent of terrorism today.
There are still many who insist that this path, even if it was great, has not led America to a place of greatness, but a place of feeling superior while lacking the core for it. What Americans must remember most in analyzing history and thinking about the future is that the path America has taken is the path that led America to where it is. This sounds simple and may be overlooked in a laughing manner by many, but it is a keystone in deciding the future of America’s greatness. Any change in policy and decision-making throughout history would have created an entirely different America. We can say we want lower taxes, fewer foreign entanglements, better healthcare and the like, but who among us will sacrifice the life he has for an America that is not in pursuit of greatness? Territorial expansion, involvement in the two World Wars, a major role in the creation of the United Nations, a firm participant of the Cold War and now a dominating figure in international affairs today, this destination could have been reached no other way. To say that America must cease to pursue greatness in favor of just blending in with the rest of the world is to deny everything America has come to be in such a short time. To limit the spreading of American values in favor of a "live and let live" policy is to deny Americans the chance of a world safe for democracy. To cease to believe in the pursuit, holding and spread of American greatness is to cease to believe in what is America.
America must continue to believe it is great, must continue to pursue that greatness, not in the interest of dominating other nations, but in leading them. Leading them because, like it or not, the world does look at America. Leading them because America has ended up in a better place faster than any nation before it. Leading them because the greatness that America has achieved in the past and today, is the greatness needed tomorrow as well.