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“The more things change…”

Today…in my mailbox…I found a document from my past. In 1964, I entered the local Voice of America Speech contest. [Voice of America was a national contest that accepted entries from all the states. A cousin of mine actually won the National Voice of America contest in 1962]

I’d like to share with you my thoughts at that time. I was 17 years old. The draft is handwritten, in pencil, on plain old ruled school paper—now quite yellowed and fuzzy at the folds. I will type the words here…just as they appear on the pages.


“Damn the torpedoes! …I have not begun to fight!”

“I regret that I have but one life to give to my country.”

“Give me liberty, or give me death.”

[quotes from, respectively, David Farragut, Nathan Hale, and Patrick Henry]

These were the voices of patriotism past.

“Ask not what your country can do for you, [but] ask what you can do for your country.”

[John Fitzgerald Kennedy]

This phrase has become the voice of patriotism present. But what will the voice of patriotism future be? Will there be a voice? And, if there is, will it be strong and eager…or will it be meek and uncertain?

Will there be a voice of patriotism future?

This is a question each and every one of us should ask ourselves…and, after we ask it, [we should] devote some serious thinking to it. The voice of patriotism future depends on us, the teens of today. The responsibilities of maintaining our freedom will fall on our shoulders one day soon. Will we be ready for them? Are we strong enough to carry them?

Adlai Stevenson says, “It is not easy to be a patriot these days.” If it is not easy these days, what will it be like in the future?

In the years since the end of World War II, relations among the countries of the world have become more and more strained. Instead of getting better with time, they continue to grow worse.

When our time comes and the efforts to settle these disputes become our efforts, can we go ahead with confidence?

Confidence is a state of mind. Do we have…or are we developing…a state of mind such that we can combat the problems that face us now, and those that will face us in the future, without uncertainty?

Will we be willing to go on fighting, even when we know the odds are against us? Will we be willing to give our lives for our country? Will we be sorry that we have only one life to offer? Will we prefer death to loss of freedom?

Patriotism is love of country. The patriots of the past loved our country very much. They had seen [our nation] being born and fought to give her the right to grow up unconfined and unrestricted.

The late president John Kennedy stated his love of our country in all his speeches and interviews, sometimes outright and sometimes subtly, under cover—but his listeners were always aware that it was there. His pride in our country has set a standard for all future patriots. John F. Kennedy loved freedom. He stood for freedom in the eyes of people all over the world.

Will the patriots of the future create such an image?

It’s up to us. The challenge is ours. If we accept this challenge, we will be the voice of patriotism future.

Will you accept the challenge?

Apparently, even at that young age, I had concerns that the future of our nation was uncertain and unclear. Today, some 50+ years later (I’m 70 this year), my youthful concerns have become our reality.

Today, I live in fear of what lies ahead with our new president-elect at the helm of what used to be the greatest and most-respected nation in the world.

Will our voices be heard? Will we speak our love of this nation loudly and proudly? Will we fight to keep our nation free and unencumbered? Will we act on our beliefs? Will we rise to take on the difficult responsibilities we inherited?

DO we accept the challenge of being the voices of patriotism today?