by Mike McPartlin, Headmaster, Bridgedale Academy
Let me repeat that.
Hockey Players will save our nation!
That’s a bold statement. And it invites two arguments.
First, it implies that our nation needs saving.
And I’m fully aware that many of our fellow citizens, quite happy with the path we are on, would disagree.
Second, it implies that hockey players have “the right stuff” to do the saving.
Which simultaneously implies that non-hockey players might not have what it takes, a notion sure to be disputed by many.
Nonetheless, I stick by my statement and believe it to be so.
In this article, I'll take on the first of these arguments.
In future articles, I'll take on the second.
Does our nation really need saving?
The very word “nation” comes from the root word for “birth.” Compare the words natal, nascent, native and nativity; they are all related.
And so a “nation” is something that has come into existence - A Nation is Born.
Our nation’s birth certificate is the Declaration of Independence.
It is not the US Constitution, important as that revered document is.
Our “character” as a nation, imprinted on us at our birth, is embodied in the self-evident truths stated in the Declaration, including:
that all men are created equal
that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights
that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness
That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among Men
deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed
That whenever any Form of government becomes destructive of these ends
it is the Right of the People to alter or abolish it
Now, if you regard these universal truths as nothing more than “quaint” outdated notions (and frankly, this is what is being taught to our children in most of our nation’s schools these days), then you may very well disagree with me that our nation needs saving.
But even worse from my perspective, and the reason why I believe our nation needs saving, is this:
Too many of our so-called leaders keep making the case (and many of them may even believe) that our nation needs saving FROM such quaint, outdated notions as the principles enunciated in the Declaration.
Two profound speeches make my argument
The arguments in favor of adhering to our nation’s founding principles are many. And most are so profound and deep that I could not expect to do them justice in a one- or two-page blog. And so I won’t even try getting into them here.
Instead, I refer you to two powerful speeches made by two of our former presidents:
If you are unsure about why the principles in the Declaration of Independence are so very important to us as Americans, and so worth defending, these great speeches will bring them to light and, I expect, remove any doubt.
Lincoln’s address came during our “great Civil War.” He spoke his immortal words in 1863 at the dedication ceremonies for a cemetery located in Gettysburg, PA for the soldiers who’d died there.
His famous introductory words “Four score and seven years ago” refer to the year 1776 and the Declaration of Independence, which “brought forth upon this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.”
The war was a test of "whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure.”
Lincoln concluded his speech with this sentence: “It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”
A lot there - and profound indeed.
Coolidge 4th of July Speech
Coolidge gave his speech in Philadelphia in 1926, in commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the Declaration.
He spoke brilliantly about the history and philosophy that led to its signing, and then said “About the Declaration there is a finality that is exceedingly restful.”
Added Coolidge: “If all men are created equal, that is final. If they are endowed with inalienable rights, that is final. If governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed, that is final.
"No advance, no progress can be made beyond these propositions. If anyone wishes to deny their truth or their soundness, the only direction in which he can proceed historically is not forward, but backward toward the time when there was no equality, no rights of the individual, no rule of the people.”
If you read and contemplate on these two speeches, and yet continue to believe that our Declaration of Independence is an outmoded document, then I am at a loss as to any logic or argument that might convince you otherwise.
But if you believe as I do that these "self-evident" truths are eternal truths and so cannot be changed or rearranged to fit a momentary political “fad” or movement, then you are apt to believe as I do.
And if, when thinking about your and your children’s futures, you sometimes have a gnawing concern that something is wrong, then I’ll respectfully suggest that you too are of the opinion, as am I, that our nation does indeed need saving.
(Stay tuned for Part 2 of this blog series to learn why I believe hockey players have the right stuff to save our nation.)
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