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How Beautiful We Were

A short list. In no particular order.

We told our children that any child could grow up to be President. And then we made it come true.

We had car shows, boat shows, beauty shows and dog shows.

We ran robots on the surface of Mars by remote control.

Our women came from all over the world in all shapes and sizes and hues and scents.

We actually believed that all men are created equal and tried to make it come true.

Everybody liked our movies and loved our television shows.

We tried to educate everybody, whether they wanted it or not. Sometimes we succeeded.

We did Levis.

We held the torch high and hundreds of millions came. No matter what the cost.

We saved Europe twice and liberated it once.

We believed so deeply and so abidingly in free speech that we protected and honored and, in some cases, even elected traitors.

We let you be as freaky as you wanted to be.

We paid you not to plant crops and not to work.

We died in the hundreds of thousands to end slavery here. And when that was done continued to fight to end slavery for a century and a half after all around the world.

We invented Jazz.

We wrote the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Gettysburg address.

We went to the moon to see how far we could hit a golf ball.

We lifted a telescope into orbit that could see to the edge of the universe.

When people snuck into the country against our laws, we made parking lots and food stands off to the side of the road so they wouldn’t get hurt, and we let them use our hospitals for free, and we made their children citizens.

We didn’t care what God you worshipped as long as we could worship ours.

We let the People arm themselves at will. Just to make sure.

We gave everybody the vote.

We built Disneyworld. Just for fun.

We had a revolution so successful it was still going strong two and a quarter centuries later.

We had so many heroes, even at the end, that we felt free to hate them and burn them in effigy.

We electrified the guitar.

We invented a music so compelling that it rocked the world.

We had some middling novelists.

We had some interesting painters.

We had some pretty good poets.

We had better songwriters.

We ran our farms so well we fed the globe.

We made the automobile and the airplane.

We let you get rich. Really, really rich.

We didn’t care who you were or what you were or where you came from or who your parents were. We just cared about what you made or what you did.

We had poor people who, even at their most wretched, were richer than any other poor people on the face of the planet.

We were the noblest nation the world had ever known.

We had so much freedom that many of us voted to just throw it all away.

Even towards the end, as we dissolved into the petty bickering and idle entertainments that come with having far too much leisure and money, many among us were still striving to make it higher, finer, brighter, better, and more beautiful.

Even towards the end, the best of us declined to give up and pressed on. “Where to? What next?”

[First published 2007]

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Jim in Alaska July 4, 2017, 8:02 AM

    & even though today many would consider it hate speech: GOD BLESS AMERICA!

  • ghostsniper July 4, 2017, 9:26 AM

    “We let you get rich.”
    ===============

    Oh dear.
    Next thing you know they’ll claim they let us breathe.

  • Frank P July 4, 2017, 11:56 AM

    All commendable, true and inspiring.

    Meanwhile over in Europe where most of your forebears were spawned, this kinda shit is going on:

    Over on the Coffeehousewall.co.uk Colonel Mustard updates us:

    “Here’s a classic example of the sinister draw between the Left and Islam.
    Federica Mogherini, 44, is the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and the EU Commission Vice-President under Juncker.
    She studied Political Science with a specialist graduation in Political Philosophy and a final dissertation on the “relationship between religion and politics in Islam”.
    From 1988 she was a member of the Italian Communist Youth Federation and in 1996 at the age of 23 she joined Youth Left after the dissolution of the Italian Communist Party and its “transformation” into a social democratic party. This “transformation” was widespread after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the origin of what might be termed the “Transatlantic Chicago Community Organising Common Purpose Conspiracy”. Devout communists no longer had their “mother” country to look to for sponsoring and funding their agitprop for socialist revolution so had to re-invent themselves to progress their agenda within mainstream politics, greatly facilitated by politicians of all persuasions.
    In Youth Left Mogherini was responsible for maintaining relations with the Party of European Socialists, the Socialist International and other left-wing parties, including the US Democratic Party. Once armed with social democrat rather than communist credentials she began to move through various senior offices of the Italian government before slithering into the EU. After the European Council showed interest in her the Italian Prime Minister formally nominated her to become an EU Commissioner despite the opposition of East European countries. In August 2014 Europe’s socialist Prime Ministers met prior to the convening of the European Council, at which she received the approval of the Party of European Socialists and on the same day the President Herman Van Rompuy announced that the European Council had decided to appoint her as its new High Representative, effective from 1 November 2014.
    In June 2015, after her appointment to the European Commission she stated publicly that Islam is part of Europe’s history and future:-
    “Islam holds a place in our Western societies. Islam belongs in Europe. It holds a place in Europe’s history, in our culture, in our food and—what matters most—in Europe’s present and future. Like it or not, this is the reality. I am not afraid to say that political Islam should be part of the picture. Religion plays a role in politics – not always for good, not always for bad. Religion can be part of the process. What makes the difference is whether the process is democratic or not.”
    Note that her final sentence can be interpreted in two ways. Either way the statement is illustrative of the prevalent political mind within the EU Commission.
    Mogherini has also been criticised for being a pivotal supporter of Iran in the negotiations over their nuclear programme.”

    Somebody pass this on to the Donald, so that he knows who he’s dealing with over there.

  • IMTDR July 4, 2017, 7:16 PM

    Where are we headed?

    Where we were always headed, slowfoot or strawfoot. The only place freedom leads.

    The iron rod of the fasces. Of a true brotherhood. The caterwauling of the “freedom” crowd cut off in one last howl as the truth comes out.

    The truth our ancestors knew. Men must be ruled. Men, like horses, must be broken to the bridle before they’re worth a damn thing. A wild stallion, however, is only a nuisance. A wild man is a horror.

    We set up laws and structures so ironhard it took centuries of Jeffersons idiotic decadence to ruin it all. But here is the whole world come at last to the true endpoint of freedoms great lie.

    And Im sure some of your squalling commentators will wail some paean to their transient need of expressing their every whim, without bridle, guide or saddle.

    Your freedom isnt great. Salisbury cathedral is great, raised under the twin dictatorships of church and state, in ruthless, just, Imperium.

    Your “freedom” is “naked lunch” and the Boston Bombing. Its the characters on “Girls” eating ass-wherein for once television follows culture.

    Its women covered in tattoos. Its bikinis and divorces and pornography and somalis in Maine and Minnesota.

    Our demonic experiment did not fail. It suceeded.

    Theyre all free now, Gerald. Free from shame. Free from duty. Free from God, culture, patriotism, loyalty, kinship, children, love, respect, ambition-

    All these things are chains. Or to follow my previous example-a bridle. A saddle, a rider- a guiding genius to some better thing.

    You want to see Jeffersons Children? Antifa is all around. Crying out, as he did in the droolingly moronic letter he dared send to better men, appointed by God to guide him in a better path-

    Crying out that its not fair, that the worlds course should subvert itself to his whim. That he, the eternal, self worshipping self, should not be bridled by anything other than whim.

    He lacked the words, so strong were thebonds of the fasces in his time, to demand that his slave-rape be a celebrated in schools, his wants tended and pronouns respected. His heirs carried on. And there we are.

    We have so far to go back. It is tragic that we will require such restriction, but Christ was right.

    The iron rod, the true church. Thr fasces of God rises

  • ghostsniper July 4, 2018, 7:59 AM

    We let the communists take over.

  • AbigailAdams July 4, 2018, 8:00 AM

    Gerard, Did I miss your posting of the Paradise 4th of July music video? I love that!

  • pbird July 4, 2018, 8:14 AM

    Always fun to be the scary contrarian!

  • lpdbw July 4, 2018, 8:14 AM

    IMTDR must be loads of fun at parties.

    I’d rather celebrate the founding of the greatest nation ever to appear on this Earth than try to piss in everyone’s Cheerios. But that’s just me.

  • Snakepit Kansas July 4, 2018, 8:53 AM

    Ghost,
    We are Americans and many of us are not going to take it lying down. In the recent past (within the Obama days), our Catholic priest gave sermon about standing and fighting for our religious, and other, liberties. In 53 years I have never seen a standing ovation for a sermon. This was it.

    You have to bake my cake but you cannot eat in my restaurant. They cannot have it both ways but they will try. Those with the guns will make the rules. Most commie libs don’t know the difference between the bore and the bolt. Don’t push the rednecks too far, as they have limits.

    As I may have mentioned in past years here, I may not live long enough to see violent backlash to stifled liberties, but my kids might. They will be well equipped to handle themselves as they deem appropriate.

    HAPPY FOURTH, SIR!

  • Old Codger July 4, 2018, 10:50 AM

    ghostsniper July 4, 2018, 7:59 AM
    “We let the communists take over.”
    ______________________________

    If by “We” you mean FDR and his Proggy marxists buddies, such as Stalin’s commie agent, Harry Hopkins, once lauded as “Co-President” with FDR (who really was a simpleton), then I’d agree.

    But DO NOT incldue this rough old cob in your “We”!!!

  • Fred July 4, 2018, 11:32 AM

    “We let the People arm themselves at will.”

    Thank you, Massa!

    Sir, nobody lets me arm myself. Pffft.

    It was a good day to shoot a tyrant in the face, as it is again today.

  • Terry July 4, 2018, 12:55 PM

    Plus one for Fred.

    Also, nice Coat of Arms, Sir.

  • ghostsniper July 4, 2018, 1:57 PM

    “But DO NOT incldue this rough old cob in your “We”!!!”

    I was being facetious, of course, old cod.
    Notice if you will that the entire constitution renders itself invalid with it’s very first word, “we”.
    Nobody gets to speak for me.

    If that piece of parchment under glass has the ability to automatically include people under it’s spell against their wishes, how is that different from that thing that states, “from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs”?

    We don’t do fireworks here on the GS Estancia but the neighbors across the road had a delivery yesterday from mexifornia a crate of 4″ mortar shells that will be raining the region at dusk, and I will, in traditional fare, be lighting up the legendary Winchester model 71 which brings it’s own style of fireworks. Hand me another buglight longneck pleez…..say what, nothing but montauk wave chasers left? DAWG!

    BTW, I likes my ribeye rare, just knock the horns off and wipe it’s ass…..

  • rabbit tobacco July 4, 2018, 9:36 PM

    The Gettysburg Address is a crock of sh*t.

  • CC July 5, 2018, 5:45 AM

    Maybe if IMTDR is going to be a pessimistic douchebag on someone else’s website, he ought to at least get their name right.

  • Ten July 5, 2018, 7:52 AM

    IMTDR must be loads of fun at parties.

    Lever-pullers must be loads of fun at polling places, lever-puller.

    I’d rather celebrate the founding of the greatest nation ever to appear on this Earth than try to piss in everyone’s Cheerios. But that’s just me.

    Except IMTDR is right. I’m betting you’re approximately as insightful about that as your internets snark is original.

    There’s no better “leftist” than the rightist who embraces half the left’s fallacies, spouts jingoistic lifestyle signals – virtually all secular and none structurally authentic – and sees none of his own tolerance of decades of authoritarianism.

    The boomer right is ostensible and as such is therefore at least much a failure as the left. The left is visibly psychotic and self-limiting. The normie right is downright codependent, complicit, almost entirely superficial, and nationally self-destructive. Go wave a flag, normie right.

    America is a cesspool. Maybe don’t conflate that hackneyed ‘greatest nation’ hoorah with principles that expired before the ink had dried.

  • pbird July 6, 2018, 9:50 AM

    Find a better one. Life on earth you know? Its rough, Mr. Ten.

  • CC July 6, 2018, 12:06 PM

    Maybe you’re hanging out with the wrong kind of people, Ten.

  • Ten July 6, 2018, 4:50 PM

    Rightists spend their lives shrieking about depravity in America while making sure nobody else notices it. Or shrieking about binary political constructs that have never existed.

    pbird: Name a better nation, Ten. CC: You don’t belong here, Ten.

    Both fallacies.

  • Auntie Analogue July 3, 2019, 10:49 PM

    “How Beautiful We Were”

    Yes. “Were” sums it up. Precisely because there is today no longer a “We.”

  • Roy Lofquist July 4, 2019, 1:22 AM

    Here’s one of my favorites:

    https://youtu.be/FFwSzZQ4MVI

  • ghostsniper July 4, 2019, 4:46 AM

    Here we are, a couple years further on, and everything’s the same, cept worse. Closer to the edge. Where is this ship of fools going? The helm is filled with revolving idiots clamoring for control of….what? One is chosen to steer and everybody else fist fights with everybody else. What a clusterfuck. Where the bear spray is? The USS America is probably going to go down and lots of people have already abandoned it, believing they are better on their own than with a perverted group. Creating distance, walls of buffer.

    For 40 years 3 or more generations of people have been cultivating continuous children – adults raising children to be children all their lives – and that’s what now surrounds us. Was it inevitable? Dunno, but it just is. This conveyor belt continues the same to demonstrate the next migration on the horizon. Another 20 years hence those that can will be gone one way or another and the fruited plain will be something else, something ugly, a giant unsupervised day care center of squalor, debasement, crime, and pain. There will be no correction, it is too far gone, but an evaluation to start anew after the complete erasure of all that is. The land itself holds value if the contaminants can be removed. 3000 x 2000 miles of fire will reduce all of it to ashes, and then a new beginning can start.

    Happy 4th, it might be the last.
    I might say this again next year.
    Ever the optimist.

  • H July 4, 2019, 5:47 AM

    “We have met the enemy, and he is us”

    Well, perhaps, but I don’t include them sons-a-bitches like Kaepernick and Nike and all them sumbitches they call friends and whoever else might tear us down in “we”. Them people are “them,” not “us”. BFYTW.

    A Remnant will abide. Because that’s what we do.

  • Lala July 4, 2019, 7:31 AM

    Many days are like this tune, but today is a day to set all that aside, be grateful, and celebrate. For most, life is still pretty good in our disunited states, there is still something worth preserving, and hope springs eternal.

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=7&v=AE3kKUEY5WU
    Many is the time I’ve been mistaken
    And many times confused
    Many is the time I’ve been forsaken
    And certainly abused
    But it’s all right it’s all right
    You can’t be for ever blessed
    And when I think of another working day
    I’ve just got to get some rest
    I’ve got to get some rest

    I don’t know a soul who’s not been battered
    Don’t have a friend who feels at ease
    Don’t know a dream that’s not been shattered
    Or driven to its knees
    Oh but it’s all right it’s all right
    We’ve lived so well so long
    And when I think of the road
    We’ve travelled on
    So far away from home
    So far away from home

    And I dreamed I was dying
    I dreamed that my soul rose unexpectedly
    And looking back down on me
    Smiled reassuringly
    And I dreamed I was flying
    And high above all my eyes could clearly see
    The Statue of Liberty
    Sailing away to sea
    And I dreamed I was flying

    We come on the ship they called the Mayflower
    We come on the ship that sailed the moon
    We come in the ages’ most uncertain hour
    And we sing an American tune
    Oh but it’s all right it’s all right
    You can’t be for ever blessed
    And when I think of another working day
    I’ve just got to get some rest
    I’ve got to get some rest

  • Richard July 4, 2019, 7:32 AM

    Glad for my memories. I remained somewhat naive about politics in general and grievance groups in particular much longer than I should have. Watched Mr Smith Goes to Washington the other night and sensed myself getting more and more provoked. With myself mostly for ever believing that there were politicians who wanted to do the best for our country and not to become wealthy selling her out.
    If it was ever true that the so-called best and brightest represented us at one time, that quaint belief had to have died many years ago. The best and brightest don’t get anywhere near the festering pustule that is politics.
    Still, some things persist and I’m a stubborn guy, so I’ll be watching Jimmy sing and dance, and let my memories overtake me once again. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N8wxb-wwQnA
    I do now that for a very long time we really were E pluribus unum.
    One other fact that I’m reminded of is the power on Kate Smith’s rendition of God Bless America,
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_zF7a0wB-Lg
    It never fails to bring tears to my eyes. Dear God how I loved the America I once knew.

  • John the River July 4, 2019, 7:41 AM

    What should we fix first? I vote for the schools. Yeah the illegals pouring over the border are a problem; don’t speak the language, expect to be fed and housed and crowd into the emergency rooms for free healthcare. But they are closer to normal human beings, albeit raw, than the indoctrinated and deviated sprouts being raised in the neighboring Marxist academy.

    Easy to start, a presidential order created The Dept. of Education and a PO can eliminate it. Then I think its time for a old fashioned book burning! Every textbook shoveled into the schools by said DOE, with particular attention to ‘Communist Core’. It would be up to the new school committee members, elected after the Great Awaking to purge the classrooms of the incompetent (damn the teacher unions), the ‘woke’, the fat lesbians… etc. And any kids that would rather disrupt than learn, out on their ass because it’s getting serious time. The world needs (English speaking) ditch diggers too.

  • James ONeil July 4, 2019, 7:52 AM

    Red Skelton explained it well, lest we forget;
    https://youtu.be/hJNL_rhGDq4

  • ghostsniper July 4, 2019, 9:58 AM

    @John the River: “What should we fix first?”
    ============

    Stop the stealing, all of it.
    There is no other way.
    Then everything else will start to straighten itself out.

  • Kurt Miller July 4, 2019, 10:36 AM

    God Bless America, the greatest country that has ever been on this earth! It is a privilege and a blessing to live here, even in these latter days. I refuse to give in to despair and hate. I will always try to choose hope and kindness for all of my fellow citizens. But I do own plenty of guns and ammunition should it be required! So don’t take yourself so seriously and grab a burger and a beer on this wonderful day! Do what is yours to do and leave the rest to the Good Lord…
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HwPkhbmSoJQ (Kate Smith – God Bless America)

  • JoanOfArgghh! July 4, 2019, 3:02 PM

    I was living in Mexico the first time I saw that, and I wept to find I missed “home.” Seeing it again, I am once again living in Mexico, and still stubbornly proud of my America. Is she not as she was? She’s still a grand old Dame and her sons and daughters are still the finest people anywhere.
    On any other day, I do miss how we were, but now, approaching the nadir of our Republic, we’re still the finest and best thing this temporal plane of existence has brought forth for the good of the world.

  • Nori July 4, 2019, 9:18 PM

    Neighborhood fireworks blasting off since dusk. Very nice display;ordinary people paid real money to light these desert skies up.