Throughout American history there are examples of men and women facing undeniable death or forthcoming doom. Our history shows that as evil and death smiled upon us, Americans stood up, took a deep breath, and smiled back. Here are but a few examples.
The year was 1836, and fewer than 300 Texans were surrounded in the Alamo by thousands of Mexican soldiers under the leadership of Gen. Santa Anna. The Texans refused to surrender. Quarter was not being given; prisoners would not be taken.
Their leader, Lt. Col. William Barrett Travis, sent a letter for help. The man’s letter read: “I shall never surrender or retreat. … I call on you in the name of Liberty, of patriotism & everything dear to the American character, to come to our aid, with all dispatch. The enemy is receiving reinforcements daily & will no doubt increase to three or four thousand in four or five days. If this call is neglected, I am determined to sustain myself as long as possible & die like a soldier who never forgets what is due to his own honor & that of his country. Victory or Death.”
In the same conflict, Susannah Dickinson, wife of Alamo defender Almeron Dickinson, was asked to leave with other non-combatants. The woman was reported to have said: “I have married a soldier. I am a soldier’s wife. I shall remain by his side.”
As the Civil War, the most devastating event in American history, was ending, Abraham Lincoln addressed the nation in his second Inaugural address. The man said: “With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in. To bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves, and with all nations.”
In 1932, the Great Depression had given us massive unemployment, stock markets crashing, bankruptcies, farm and home foreclosures, and endless food lines and soup kitchens.
FDR addressed the nation in his first Inaugural address. The man said: “This is pre-eminently the time to speak the truth, the whole truth, frankly and boldly. Nor need we shrink from honestly facing conditions in our country today. This great Nation will endure as it has endured, will revive and will prosper. So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”
On Dec. 7, 1941, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, and the United States was at war with Nazi Germany, Italy and the Empire of Japan. Much of the Pacific Fleet had been destroyed, our troops in the Far East isolated and at the mercy of a merciless enemy, and our Army was nowhere near ready for war on the scale needed to defeat these juggernauts.
FDR addressed the nation. The man said: “No matter how long it may take us to overcome this premeditated invasion, the American people in their righteous might will win through to absolute victory. With confidence in our armed forces, with the unbounding determination of our people, we will gain the inevitable triumph. So help us God.”
On 9/11, the passengers of Flight 93, realizing their time was at hand, knew their only chance was to fight their way to the cockpit and take control of the jetliner. As Americans before them, they fought. Todd Beamer — he could have been your neighbor next door — was on that plane. The man’s final words were: “Are you ready guys? Let’s roll.”
Later that day, President George W. Bush addressed the nation. The man said: “A great people have been moved to defend a great nation. Terrorist attacks can shake the foundations of our biggest buildings, but they cannot touch the foundation of America. These acts shatter steel, but they cannot dent the steel of American resolve.”
Just weeks ago, America faced “The Sequester.” That was the cataclysmic event whereupon the federal government would spend more money this year than last, but $85 billion less than planned. We still have an increase in spending, but not as large an increase as President Barack Obama wanted.
Through numerous media conferences, Obama addressed the nation. He told us that mothers will be searching for day care centers, air-traffic controllers will be laid-off, the military will suffer cutbacks, police and first responders will be let go, scores of pre-schools will be closed, and many teachers will be out of work.
Look to our history, Mr. President. I wish you were as ashamed of yourself as we are of you.
CHUCK PINKEY is a retired area businessman. He can be reached at email@example.com. The views expressed in this column do not necessarily reflect those of The Daily Star and its editorial board, but the author thinks they ought to.