Fearing the demise of our Republic is nothing new in America. Americans are prone to an almost inexplicable belief in our inevitable decline. Right after winning our War of Independence, many of The Founding Fathers worried about America going the way of the Roman Empire.
The incomparable English writer Charles Dickens observed in the middle of the 19th Century, "If its individual citizens, to a man, are to be believed, America always is depressed, and always is stagnated, and always is in an alarming crisis, and never was otherwise."
As I get ready to celebrate the Fourth of July weekend, my thoughts keep going back to a recent visit to the beaches and cemeteries at Normandy. Standing on the cliffs overlooking the English Channel is one of the most humbling things you'll ever experience. It puts your mundane challenges and worries into true perspective.
To think about those young American men in Higgins boats, approaching some of the most heavily fortified terrain in history will bring you to your knees. To know they were there to save human civilization from destroying itself is beyond comprehension.
And while these men and the country that produced them seem eons away, I believe things haven't changed in the Republic.
From Bunker Hill to New Orleans; to Antietam and Gettysburg; to the Somme and Guadalcanal; to Chosin and Ia Drang; to Fallujah and the Korengal Valley; and a thousand other places, the men and women who have served to keep our independence are a mirror to us all.
They didn't come from outer space. They were raised in American homes, went to American schools, and grew up in the American culture.
For all its foibles and flaws, how we can get down on a country that produces such individuals?
Happy Birthday America!