On this 4th of July week, we can enjoy the hotdogs, hamburgers, the live bands and a few beers under a hot sun. Yet the day is for remembering our Independence, our Freedom and our America. America is not easy. Democracy is difficult and challenging.
The 20th Century spawned some of the worst dictatorships in human history, with the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics dictator Vladimir Lenin and Josef Stalin, the National Socialist dictator Adolph Hitler, the brutal Chinese Socialist Mao Tse-tung as well as other evil men like Fidel Castro, North Korea's Kim Jong-Il, Cambodia's genocidal utopian socialist Pol Pot and more. The Constitution was made for its citizens, not its government. The Citizens are the government as evidenced of "We The People". It is our responsibility for the direction of our government through action, the vote and our voice. As Thomas Jefferson said, "A Bill of Rights is what the people are entitled to against every government, and what no just government should refuse, or rest on inference."
A friend of mine sent me a note about Optimism and Admiral Chester Nimitz. My friend could have reason for both pessimism - and optimism. His optimism is borne of the same vigors of the Spirit and the Mind that test the souls of Americans in combat. He was an American Army Ranger, fighting the Korean War. Though he has not spoke of it at length, my understanding is that he operated behind the enemy lines. Rangers are an elite group and charged with the Army's more hazardous and difficult missions. He was captured twice - and escaped twice. In this war, there was little if any mercy from the North Korean Army supported by Socialist dictator Stalin's vast post World War II war machine as well as the Communist Chinese across the border. And my friend has reason for pessimism as he is a Financial expert in an investment field, trying to navigate the chaotic monetary waters of today's global economy.
Yet he falls on the side of optimism with this note that he wrote to me.
Optimism tempered with realism are part of the spirit of this great country, the United States of America, and important traits for all of us to remember and maintain as we celebrate our Independence on this July 4, 2012. Americans are optimistic by nature; we are a “can do” people. Imbued with a strong Judeo-Christian work ethic, we work harder, smarter and longer than any other nation. American ingenuity, technology and quality of workmanship is respected all over the world.
I am reminded that when on board a ship if you look down at the sea it invariably appears rough and choppy, but if you elevate your sights to the horizon it is almost always calm. In times like these we may be well advised to keep our eyes trained on the horizon and with the benefit of optimism and reason seek the wisdom history makes available to us and capitalize on the very substantial opportunities presented to us at this precious and important moment in time. With all the difficulties and distractions of the moment, what we have before us are opportunities of a lifetime; they are easily within our reach and readily available to us if we have the courage and optimism to seize them.
And a rememberance of Admiral Chester Nimitz reviewing the damage of Pearl Harbor right after the Japanese surprise attack of December 7, 1941:
Sunday, December 7th, 1941—Admiral Chester Nimitz was attending a concert in Washington D.C. He was paged and told there was a phone call for him. When he answered the phone, it was President Franklin Delano Roosevelt on the phone. He told Admiral Nimitz that he (Nimitz) would now be the Commander of the Pacific Fleet.
Admiral Nimitz flew to Hawaii to assume command of the Pacific Fleet. He landed at Pearl Harbor on Christmas Eve, 1941. There was such a spirit of despair, dejection and defeat—you would have thought the Japanese had already won the war. On Christmas Day, 1941, Adm. Nimitz was given a boat tour of the destruction wrought on Pearl Harbor by the Japanese.. Big sunken battleships and navy vessels cluttered the waters everywhere you looked.
As the tour boat returned to dock, the young helmsman of the boat asked, "Well Admiral, what do you think after seeing all this destruction?" Admiral Nimitz's reply shocked everyone within the sound of his voice.
Admiral Nimitz said, "The Japanese made three of the biggest mistakes an attack force could ever make, or God was taking care of America. Which do you think it was?"
Shocked and surprised, the young helmsman asked, "What do mean by saying the Japanese made the three biggest mistakes an attack force ever made?" Nimitz explained:
Mistake number one: the Japanese attacked on Sunday morning. Nine out of every ten crewmen of those ships were ashore on leave. If those same ships had been lured to sea and been sunk—we would have lost 38,000 men instead of 3,800.
Mistake number two: when the Japanese saw all those battleships lined in a row, they got so carried away sinking those battleships, they never once bombed our dry docks opposite those ships. If they had destroyed our dry docks, we would have had to tow every one of those ships to America to be repaired. As it is now, the ships are in shallow water and can be raised. One tug can pull them over to the dry docks, and we can have them repaired and at sea by the time we could have towed them to America . And I already have crews ashore anxious to man those ships.
Mistake number three: Every drop of fuel in the Pacific theater of war is in top-of-the-ground storage tanks five miles away over that hill. One attack plane could have strafed those tanks and destroyed our fuel supply. That's why I say the Japanese made three of the biggest mistakes an attack force could make or God was taking care of America.
Admiral Nimitz has been a personal hero of mine since childhood. Working in a public library to make money, I had a secret shelf of books that I would read during lulls in my shelving and sorting. Nimitz had not gone to Pearl Habor to fix the blame. He did not fire nor demote all the officers on the naval staff. He got to work. Nimitz was a Texan who had only seen a large body of water near his town of Fredericksburg, Texas that was about three or four feet deep. And then went off to command the greatest number of men in war on the largest ocean in the world.
And in the moment of profound defeat embraced by other men, he saw a silver lining. Remember our national motto, "In God We Trust".