Sept. 17, 1787, is the date on which the United States Constitution was read and engrossed in final form at the constitutional convention. Benjamin Franklin, then 81 years old, was too frail to make a speech; but his written remarks were read aloud by his fellow-member of the Pennsylvania delegation, James Wilson. At the dawn of the 21st century, with Americans reflecting on first principles, Franklin’s guidance remains timely:
Am I alone in sensing an uptick in focus on the anniversary of the dreadful terror attacks of 9-11-2001?
I lived and died a proud American. We are citizens of the world’s greatest republic. A nation of ideals, not blood and soil. We are blessed and a blessing to humanity when we uphold and advance those ideals at home and in the world. We have helped liberate more people from tyranny and poverty than ever before in history. We have acquired great wealth and power in the progress. We weaken our greatness when we confuse our patriotism with rivalries that have sown resentment and hatred and violence in all the corners of the globe. We weaken it when we hide behind walls rather than tear them down, when we doubt the power of our ideals rather than trust them to be the great force for change they have always been. We are 325 million opinionated, vociferous individuals. We argue and compete and sometimes even vilify each other in our raucous public debates. —John McCain, farewell message, August 2018
John McCain was a devotee of Theodore Roosevelt. Like TR, he strove to serve his nation throughout his life and work.
There was a time when they were simply a beautiful young couple in love. Nina and Claus von Stauffenberg were favored by fortune. They were aristocrats. They were patriots, dedicated to the nation from whom they sprung.
Through twists of fate they could never have imagined, Claus von Stauffenberg would become a historic figure. If anyone merits characterization as a “hero,” even in our post-heroic age, it’s he. No less a personage than Winston Churchill rendered the verdict that none could overturn: Stauffenberg was the “bravest of the best.”
It takes nothing away from Stauffenberg’s example to note that he was not alone in his heroism. In the run-up and follow-up to his crowded hour, Stauffenberg’s journey was undertaken with his family. Those who would learn from his example may benefit from the larger picture.