by James J. Devine
Though celebrated on the third Monday in April, the actual Patriots’ Day is April 19. It marks the Battles of Lexington and Concord and “the shot heard around the world.”
The Patriots’ Day celebration was defiled by the bombings at this year’s Boston Marathon, adding another day of infamy when the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked to the list of such atrocities.
“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,” said Franklin Delano Roosevelt as he asked Congress to declare that a state of war existed between the United States and the Japanese empire.
Since Sept. 11, 2001, the American people have been less bold and focussed on their righteous might.
President Obama said Patriots’ Day is “a day that celebrates the free and fiercely independent spirit that this great American city of Boston has reflected from the earliest days of our nation.”
Patriots’ Day should remind us who we are, what we stand for and why America is exceptional.
We still do not know who did this or why they resorted to violence, but President Obama said the culprits responsible for this offense will be brought to justice.
We still do not know who did this, but we know that life is better for those who live in liberty, prosperity and justice.
We also know that we can never enjoy the blessings of freedom until and unless we extend it to all humanity, for every oppressed person is a potential enemy.
President Abraham Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address during the Civil War and said, “It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. 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.”
It is for us, the living, to once again resolve that this nation shall have a new birth of freedom.
Eight year old Martin Richard was standing by the finish line with his family when an explosion ripped through the crowd, his 6-year-old sister lost a leg and his mother suffered a brain injury.
One of Boston’s most cherished rites of spring was transformed from a scene of cheers and sweaty triumph to one of screams and carnage, so we shall grieve Martin’s death, but instead of living in fear we must recall Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, August 28, 1963:
“When the architects of our great republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed to the inalienable rights of life liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
The guilty will pay a price for what was done but fighting crime is not the same as engaging in war. It is more precise, less destructive and far more righteous.
The guilty will pay but the innocent are no less entitled to the promise of life liberty and the pursuit of happiness. We lost Martin Richard but America must not betray millions of other little boys and girls who are due the rights and freedom.
Chumbawamba’s Tubthumping contains the lyric, “I get knocked down, but I get up again. You’re never going to keep me down.”
Let America get up again. Let America rise as we ring out freedom and fiercely defend our way of living, returning to the bravery and boldness that preceded the terrorist attacks of 2001. Let America recover from a decade of panic and fear, hatred and hostility.
Let America go forward, highly resolved to have a new birth of freedom because the American people know it’s not whether or why or how you get knocked down, but what you do when you get up again.
Let America be America, again. The land of the free and the home of the brave.
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