The patrol torpedo boat PT-109 commanded by Lieutenant John F Kennedy sunk 78 years ago, on August 2nd 1943, after being rammed by the Japanese destroyer Amagiri. This incident gave Kennedy lifelong back problems and a war hero status because of the bravery he showed to save his surviving crew. The disaster was also one of the foundations for his political career.
As I face the tremendous uncertainties of life in a society which is trashing the legacy of freedom from World War Two, JFK is one of the heroes whose legacy I cherish.
As he said, “Every accomplishment starts with the decision to try.”
“The only thing new on this earth is the history you don’t know.” – Harry Truman
The Marshall Plan is famous as an act of extraordinary generosity from America which restored prosperity to a war ravaged Europe.
It was signed into law by President Truman on the 3rd of April 1948.
The plan was conceived and put in place after the damage was done and the situation had been fully assessed.
Now we see people in a health crisis calling it a war and spending enormous sums of money to prevent as yet unknown damage and simultaneously ceasing the economic activities which could generate the income to pay for what is being spent.
Does that order of doing things and that way of speaking of things make any sense?
What makes more sense to me as words for reflection by all of us now are these words of George C Marshall himself:
“The only way human beings can win a war is to prevent it.”
“A political problem thought of in military terms eventually becomes a military problem.”
The more I reflect on The Greatest Generation, the more I believe this modern world still has a lot to learn.
Someone I respect, Tulsi Gabbard, has just described Coronavirus as the “enemy” ……. I am worried about this common attempt to use a military approach to a health care problem …….. I think that the Coronavirus is a germ not a miltary foe ……. it is a part of both nature and God’s creation ….. in tackling the problem we need to care not to fight ….. and to be able to care, we need to stay alive.
So important jobs like POTUS need to be done by people not at risk of death because of their age.
Of the last three Democrat candidates in the 2020 race Gabbard was the only one under 77 years old.
Sanders, 78, recent heart attack. Biden, 77, memory and cognitive abilities in clear decline. Trump, 74. Pence, 60. Both Republicans are in good health.
Nobody should be fooled by President Trump’s blowhard style of political campaigning.
POTUS is firmly in the tradition of great Republican peace makers in the White House.
Abraham Lincoln freed the slaves and saved the Union.
Dwight D. Eisenhower inherited a mess in Korea from Harry Truman but he acheived what has been a lasting peace.
Richard Nixon, a man of the Quaker faith which is profoundly committed to the pursuit of peace, started talking with his communist adversaries.
Ronald Reagan achieved genuine reductions in weapons of mass destruction and, using peaceful methods, the Gipper won The Cold War.
Donald Trump has chosen dialogue with the leader of the worlds’s newest nuclear power, while others try to score political points about this by practicing the demonisation which is second nature to far too many modern progressives in The West.
I believe this current POTUS has shown a better balance of restraint and strength in The Middle East than any American President since George H. W. Bush.
In the little movie above, I have endeavored artistically to create a seamless transition between the thoughts of Eisenhower in his astonishing farewell address and the thoughts of Candidate Trump in 2016, because:
On the first of December 1862, with his country torn apart in Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln told America, “In giving freedom to the slave we assure freedom to the free — honorable alike in what we give and what we preserve.”
On Christmas Day that year Lincoln visited soldiers in hospitals. Then the president commissioned artist Thomas Nash to create the first modern image of Santa Claus, in the cause of freedom.
What a wonderful Christmas spirit that was: visiting those wounded in a righteous cause and creating art celebrating generosity.
In the modern world, freedom is under constant threat.
As Fathers Day and July 4th approach, I congratulate you on being the first American president to meet with North Korea’s head of state: where others feared war, you have increased the chances of peace. Such communication is essential to make a reality of Douglas MacArthur’s prophecy: “A better world shall emerge based on faith and understanding.”
I am Australian and a fan of MacArthur and the American spirit of freedom. I write to you from a new home for freedom: the Republic Of Indonesia. In this nation, leaders like Presidents Yudhoyono and Jokowi and Mike Pence’s recent White House guest Yahya Staquf Cholil strengthen democracy, fight terrorism and present a gentle face to the world.
The Indonesian nation was born in the wake of the American lead victory over Imperial Japan in 1945. During World War Two, when the attack on Pearl Harbour and subsequent Japanese imperial conquests shook up our world, Australia’s great wartime Prime Minister, Jack Curtin, said, “Australia looks to America.” We still do. Under the postwar leadership of Douglas MacArthur, Japan became a democratic ally of the West.
America inspires the world by the depth of her commitment to freedom. As Benjamin Franklin said, “Freedom is not a gift bestowed upon us by other men, but a right that belongs to us by the laws of God and nature.” Likewise Thomas Jefferson said “Our liberty can never be safe but in the hands of the people themselves.”
In words that presage the sufferings of many men in the twenty first century at the hands of misandry disguised as political correctness, George Washington declared, “If the freedom of speech is taken away, then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.”
During World War One, when free nations faced an existential threat, Nobel Peace Prize winner Teddy Roosevelt reasserted the profoundly American vision of the centrality of honest freedom: “I am an American and a free man. ……. Free speech, exercised both individually and through a free press, is a necessity in any country where the people are themselves free …… Nothing but the truth should be spoken …….”
In his 1941 state of the Union address, Teddy’s 5th cousin, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, spoke of the need for continual national endeavour: “……. today’s best is not good enough for tomorrow.”
This last quote points to a strength that defines American greatness: the ability to correct mistakes and to take new paths: as Ronald Reagan said: “Freedom is the right to question and change the established way of doing things.” That’s the spirit behind your pioneering meeting in Singapore, Mr President.
In 1961, The Gipper warned: “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same.” Protecting freedom for those who follow speaks to us now when equality and freedom are denied to far too many sons in the western world.
The election of Barak Obama and yourself were both examples of America’s capacity to redirect herself. The following wise words from Obama show great insight to social problems which became worse during his presidency: “For too many of us, it’s become safer to retreat into our own bubbles, whether in our neighbourhoods or on college campuses, or places of worship or especially our social media feeds, surrounded by people who look like us and share the same political outlook and never challenge our assumptions …….. And increasingly, we become so secure in our bubbles that we start accepting only information, whether it’s true or not, that fits our opinions, instead of basing our opinions on the evidence that is out there.”
The problem of sexist injustices towards men is getting worse across the western world. The appointment by you, Mr President, of Betsy DeVos to the crucial post of Secretary of Education may be a turning point.
In addressing injustices created by previous Title IX directions she has shown that America’s freedom-based capacity to correct problems is still alive and well. For me as a poet, her words about this are profoundly moving: they demonstrate your administration’s defence of the very best American traditions. For instance:
“There is no way to avoid the devastating reality of campus sexual misconduct: lives have been lost. Lives of victims. And lives of the accused.”
“Survivors aren’t well-served when they are re-traumatized with appeal after appeal because the failed system failed the accused.”
“And the rights of one person can never be paramount to the rights of another.”
“Schools have been compelled by Washington to enforce ambiguous and incredibly broad definitions of assault and harassment. …. But if everything is harassment, then nothing is.”
“The notion that a school must diminish due process rights to better serve the ‘victim’ only creates more victims.”
Mr President, I know of no government figure in the world to have recently made a better stand for the rights of men than your Secretary of Education. As a victim of socialist left police state tactics in in Victoria in southeast Australia, I salute your appointment of Secretary DeVos.
Current challenges to freedom are real. As the Secretary’s comments imply, people stripped of freedom will sometimes choose suicide.
American founding father Patrick Henry said “…… give me liberty or give me death!” A slogan of the Indonesian republican revolution gets this in three words: “Merdeka atau mati!” (Liberty or death!)
Where is the answer to modern injustices against men? Perhaps Douglas MacArthur’s wise words: “It must be of the spirit if we are to save the flesh.” show the way.
Much work must be done for the spirit of freedom to survive and save us.
As Thomas Jefferson put it: “The price of freedom is eternal vigilance.”
God Bless You and God Bless Betsy DeVos, Mr President.
And God Bless the spirit of freedom with which America leads the world.