On July 4th, 1986, the greatest president in my lifetime, Ronald Wilson Reagan, delivered these words to a television audience. They are as inspirational today as the day that they were given.
My remarks tonight will be brief, but it’s worth remembering that all the celebration of this day is rooted in history. It’s recorded that shortly after the Declaration of Independence was signed in Philadelphia celebrations took place throughout the land, and many of the former Colonists — they were just starting to call themselves Americans — set off cannons and marched in fife and drum parades.
What a contrast with the sober scene that had taken place a short time earlier in Independence Hall. Fifty-six men came forward to sign the parchment. It was noted at the time that they pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honors. And that was more than rhetoric; each of those men knew the penalty for high treason to the Crown. “We must all hang together,” Benjamin Franklin said, “or, assuredly, we will all hang separately.” And John Hancock, it is said, wrote his signature in large script so King George could see it without his spectacles. They were brave. They stayed brave through all the bloodshed of the coming years. Their courage created a nation built on a universal claim to human dignity, on the proposition that every man, woman, and child had a right to a future of freedom.
For just a moment, let us listen to the words again: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, 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.” Last night when we rededicated Miss Liberty and relit her torch, we reflected on all the millions who came here in search of the dream of freedom inaugurated in Independence Hall. We reflected, too, on their courage in coming great distances and settling in a foreign land and then passing on to their children and their children’s children the hope symbolized in this statue here just behind us: the hope that is America. It is a hope that someday every people and every nation of the world will know the blessings of liberty.
If you listen to the Mantra of modern American liberals, you would think that America’s best days are behind her and that we are the worst Nation on the face of the Earth. Personally, I do not believe their assessment of gloom and doom. Rather, I stand with this man who embodied the American Spirit that is beginning to awaken across this blessed land.
Gen. Anthony Clement McAuliffe is best remembered for uttering a single word — no mean feat, considering that even the shortest Bible verse has two. Commanding the U.S. Army’s beleaguered and surrounded 101st Airborne Division during World War II’s Battle of the Bulge, McAuliffe received a German surrender ultimatum. “Nuts!” he replied, and became a lasting symbol of American courage and determination under fire.
A 1918 West Point graduate, McAuliffe held various field artillery positions before World War II. On the eve of D-Day, McAuliffe jumped with the first wave as a commander of division artillery, although he had never received formal parachute training.
In December 1944, during the siege of Bastogne, Belgium, McAuliffe was acting commander of the 101st in Gen. Maxwell D. Taylor’s absence. The Americans had been holding the Belgian town “at all costs,” and on Dec. 22, Gen. McAuliffe received the encouraging news that the 4th Armored Division was beginning its drive north to relieve the 101st. Later that morning, members of the division’s glider regiment saw four Germans coming up the road carrying a white flag. Everyone hoped they were offering surrender. Instead, they presented two pages demanding the Americans’ surrender: “To the USA Commander of the encircled town of Bastogne. . .There is only one possibility. . .the honorable surrender of the encircled town.”
McAuliffe glanced at the message and said, “Aw, nuts!” When he told his commanders he didn’t know what answer to send, Lt. Col. Harry Kinnard said ‘That first crack you made would be hard to beat, General.” Everyone laughed as a sergeant typed up the succinct response: “To the German Commander: Nuts! The American Commander.”
Between this stoic reply, Patton’s troops from the south, and a change in the weather that allowed air reinforcement the following day, the 101st was able to hold Bastogne. Their victory resulted in the first full-Division Presidential Distinguished Unit Citation.
McAuliffe’s actions at Bastogne helped assure the final defeat of the Germans. Gen. McAuliffe continued to serve on active duty, including assignments as Head of the Army Chemical Corps, Commander, 7th Army, and Commander-In-Chief of the U.S. Army, Europe, until his 1956 retirement. He died in Washington, D.C. in 1975 and is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
In the opinion of this 57-year-old, sitting in the Northwest corner of the Magnolia State in America’s Heartland, the current Administration and Modern Amercan Liberals have underestimated the American Spirit, just as King George and the British Aristocracy did, so many years ago.
As our enemies, both foreign and domestic, have discovered since the birth of our nation, Americans will fight for our freedom. And we shall prove it again, this coming November, with an electoral explosion of nuclear magnitude, which shall make November of 2012 seem like a firecracker in comparison.
May God Bless you and your family on this 4th of July, the Year of Our Lord, 2016, and may God Bless America.
Tags: America, American Revolution, Independence Day, Patriotism