This is the era of the ungrateful American. This is the time when some Americans pour contempt on their country—even before the whole world.
For example, last week, at the opening of the World Cup of women’s soccer in Vietnam, all the Vietnamese players showed their pride for their country. But, as the New York Post notes, “Most members of the U.S. women’s soccer team stayed silent during the national anthem.”
The Post added, “Only five of the 11 players who stood on the field for the anthem—with young, aspiring players standing before them—placed their hands over their hearts, while their six teammates kept their digits clasped behind their backs, video shows.”
In contrast to this attitude was that of the late Jeremiah Denton, Jr., whom I once got to interview for Coral Ridge Ministries–TV. He served in the Vietnam War. His plane was shot down, and he was brutalized as a POW for eight years, as described in his book When Hell Was in Session.
When he was finally released in 1973, he made a brief speech, in which the future U.S. Senator said, “We are honored to have had the opportunity to serve our country under difficult circumstances. We are profoundly grateful to our commander-in-chief and to our nation for this day. God bless America.”
An interesting irony is that nearly 60,000 Americans died in the Vietnam War, the goal of which was to stop the spread of Communism. We failed in that objective, and then came the “killing fields,” in which the Cambodian Communists butchered more than a million fellow Cambodians.
And some American athletes are willing to put their ingratitude for America on display before the watching world.
To me this is the very opposite of Lee Greenwood’s famous song, which soared in popularity during the Reagan years: “And I’m proud to be an American, where at least I know I’m free.”
But today’s elite seem to be saying by their protest of the National Anthem: “And I’m ashamed to be an American.”
The outspoken lesbian soccer player Megan Rapinoe is a leader in opposing the National Anthem and other symbols of patriotism.
In 2020, Terry Gross interviewed Rapinoe for NPR and summarized some statements from U.S. soccer officials to the female soccer star: “As part of the privilege to represent your country, we have an expectation that our players and coaches will stand and honor our flag while the national anthem is played.”
Rapinoe resented this statement: “I couldn't believe it. I think I was truly sort of dumbstruck. It really upset me. The nerve and the audacity to say what they did in that statement—it is an honor and a privilege that we all have in this country? I don't think so. I don't think we do all have that in this country.”
No “privilege” to be in this country?
In his 2002 book, Thou Shall Prosper, my friend Rabbi Daniel Lapin talks about how no American should be arrogant about his nation of birth: “You had the good fortune to be born and raised in a country that offered not only physical survival but also endless opportunity” (p. 82).
In a different context, the Apostle Paul reminds us of why we should be humble: “What do you have that you did not receive?”
America has never been perfect. But as a nation, it has lifted up millions from grinding poverty and continues to do so, as we strive “to form a more perfect union,” to quote the Constitution.
Many modern Americans, perhaps those protesting the National Anthem, don’t seem to be aware of the numerous sacrifices made by the settlers of this nation and the founding fathers. I suppose they just dismiss them as part of the “patriarchy.”
But sacrifice they did. Semi-retired Judge Darrell White made a fascinating remark in our Providence Forum film, “Endowed By Their Creator,” part of my seven-part Foundation of American Liberty series.
White noted: “In a nutshell, our founders sacrificed their prosperity for their posterity, us. They pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor to secure our blessings of liberty. We, on the other hand, have fallen into a pattern of doing just the opposite. We have sat on our posteriors while socialistic policies plunder our posterity, financially and morally on the altar of temporal prosperity.”
Sacrifices among America’s founders were legion, in places like Valley Forge. But such devotion appears largely forgotten today by smug ingrates who seem to denigrate America at every turn.© Jerry Newcombe
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