John F. Kennedy: Ask What You Can Do

John F. Kennedy “In the long history of the world, only a few generations have been granted the role of defending freedom in its hour of maximum danger. I do not shrink from this responsibility—I welcome it. I do not believe that any of us would exchange places with any other people or any other generation. The energy, the faith, the devotion which we bring to this endeavor will light our country and all who serve it—and the glow from that fire can truly light the world.

“And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you—ask what you can do for your country.

“My fellow citizens of the world: ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man.

“Finally, whether you are citizens of America or citizens of the world, ask of us the same high standards of strength and sacrifice which we ask of you. With a good conscience our only sure reward, with history the final judge of our deeds, let us go forth to lead the land we love, asking His blessing and His help, but knowing that here on earth God’s work must truly be our own.”

John F. Kennedy, 35th President of the United States. Inaugural Address, Friday, January 20, 1961. Tags: , ,

Samuel Adams: Animating Contest of Freedom

"If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom, go home from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or arms.  Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen."

Samuel Adams, One of the Founding Fathers of the United States. From speech at the Philadelphia State House, August 1, 1776. Tags: , ,

Love Freedom? Wear a Red Hat

Early this morning, I stumbled across a delightful post by Jed Sundall about the significance of the red cap atop the pole in Argentina’s coat of arms pictured to the right of Papa Smurf.

Jed had learned from a tour guide at the Argentine National Congress that:

“the coat’s rising sun represents the birth of a new nation, the blue and white background reminds us of the clear sky and the Río de la Plata, the laurels symbolize Argentina’s successful struggle for freedom, the joining hands represent the solidarity of the Argentine people, and the staff represents the power of the people’s union.”

The tour guide didn’t know the significance of the hat, but Jed subsequently learned,

“The hat is a liberty, or Phrygian, cap. Its inclusion on the coat of arms completes a graceful visualization of Argentina’s motto, En Unión y Libertad (In Union and Liberty).”

Jed further explained:

“Phrygia was an ancient kingdom in what is now Turkey. Its inhabitants would wear soft, red caps with the top pointed forward to distinguish themselves from their neighbors. Over time, the Greeks came to dominate the region, and the Phrygian caps eventually came to represent anything eastern or non-Greek. The caps became a symbol of freedom much later when freed Roman slaves started wearing them to represent their new status as Roman citizens. Freedom lovers worldwide have been wearing them ever since.”

Even in the years before the US Revolutionary War,  “liberty poles” topped with an ensign or a red Phrygian cap were often erected in town squares or on private land, to symbolize the colonist’s struggle for freedom.

Intrigued by Jed’s article, I subsequently learned from Wikipedia that a Phrygian cap is an integral symbol in the Seal of the United States Senate and was also included atop a pole held by the seated Liberty on a silver dollar minted in 1868.

So, while patriots today may favor flying the flag as a symbol of their love of liberty, it has been interesting to learn that early patriots wore red caps and courageously hoisted them high for all to see in defiant defense of the liberty they held dear.

I think I’ll go out and buy myself a red hat!  And perhaps I’ll ask Santa Claus if he loves freedom, too!

Abraham Lincoln: We Have Forgotten God

"We have been recipients of the choicest bounties of Heaven.  We have been preserved, these many years, in peace and prosperity.  We have grown in numbers, wealth, and power as no other nation has ever grown; but we have forgotten God.  We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace, and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us; and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own."

Abraham Lincoln, 16th President of the United States.  From a proclamation issued March 30, 1863, for a national day of fasting and prayer to be observed on April 30, 1863, as quoted in American Quotations, p. 68. Tags: ,

Ronald Reagan: Freedom is a Fragile Thing

"Freedom is a fragile thing and is never more than one generation away from extinction. It is not ours by inheritance; it must be fought for and defended constantly by each generation, for it comes only once to a people. Those who have known freedom, and then lost it, have never known it again."

Ronald Reagan, 40th President of the United States. First Inaugural Message as Governor of California, January 5, 1967. Tags:

Nelson Mandela: Liberation from our Fear

Nelson Mandela Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.

It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?

Actually, who are you not to be?
You are a child of God

Your playing small doesn’t serve the world.
There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.

We are all meant to shine, as children do.
We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.
It’s not just in some of us, it’s in everyone.

And as we let our own light shine,
We unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.

As we’re liberated from our own fear,
our presence automatically liberates others.

Nelson Mandela, Former President of South Africa, from 1994 Inaugural Address Tags: ,

Thomas Jefferson: God Gave Us Liberty

"God who gave us life gave us liberty. And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are of the Gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with His wrath? Indeed, I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that His justice cannot sleep forever."

Thomas Jefferson, Third President of the United States Tags: , ,

George Washington: Future Guardians of Liberty

“A primary object should be the education of our youth in the science of government.  In a republic, what species of knowledge can be equally important?  And what duty more pressing … than … communicating it to those who are to be the future guardians of the liberties of the country.”

George Washington, First President of the United States.  Quoted on National Center for Constitutional Studies website. Tags: , , ,

Boyd K. Packer: Freedom Through Obedience

"Obedience to God can be the very highest expression of independence.  Just think of giving to Him the one thing, the one gift, that He would never take.  Obedience — that which God will never take by force — He will accept when freely given.  He will then return to you freedom that you can hardly dream of — the freedom to feel and to know, the freedom to do, and the freedom to be, at least a thousand fold more than we offer him.  Strangely enough, the key to freedom is obedience."

Boyd K. Packer, President of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. BYU Speeches of the Year, Provo, 7 Dec. 1971, p. 4, Quoted by Janet G. Lee, “Look Both Ways”, New Era, February 1994. Tags: , ,