What are “Traditional American Values”? One of the most difficult parts of writing for a publication with such a high mission is to try and understand exactly what to write! The problem is we aren’t clear on what these values are. “Traditional American Values” can mean any number of things.
I think we can agree that to be an American means to hold to something very highly. That something is Freedom and Liberty. The reason we have any freedom is because of our form of government. Like it or not, for good or for ill, we all hold to the Constitution of the United States. This one document though debated, rejected, and cursed by some still remains the Law of the Land. The men who wrote it were of sound mind and made decisions with the future in mind. The part I keep coming back to is the Preamble. Here’s how it goes:
“We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”
Isn’t that wonderful? “We the people” do all these things. These days we can’t seem to agree on the color of a dress…or the sky. But in 1787 our country’s founders signed into law the start of something that still stands today. Will America stand forever? No, kingdoms rise and fall. But TODAY, almost 230 years later, we the people still stand under the Constitution’s umbrella “to form a more perfect Union”. Take a moment with me to appreciate that.
The other Traditional American Values I want to share with you are kept for us in our Declaration of Independence. That’s right, I said OUR. On July 4th, 1776, the document was signed that said among other things:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,”
Can you imagine? Self-evident truths?! Though the people who signed this document (and the men and women who steadfastly suffered the consequences with them) were far from living up to the standard that “all men are created equal”, it is striking to me that at that time they knew such a standard existed. Sometimes it doesn’t seem like we grasp that today. What I’m getting at is that I believe one of the traditional American values is recognizing that values exist and striving for the standard set for us by the people of our past. Whether they are soldiers or civilians, men or women, of every race, color, and creed – we Americans today need to recognize we are standing on the accomplishments of those who came before and we have a duty to carry their lamp forward. Even if that means going back and picking up the pieces to find the values we may have lost along the way.
If you have never read these documents, don’t worry. I won’t judge you. It took until I was an adult to start appreciating what is in them. Please consider taking a look and learning about them. I’ve listed a couple resources below if you can find the time. Maybe that is where this all needs to start anyhow. Not necessarily with the Constitution or the Declaration, but with the desire to LOOK! What are “Traditional American Values”? I guess I don’t know yet. But I’m willing to take the journey. Are you?
“And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.” – Closing Sentence of the Declaration of Independence. Signed July 4th 1776.
http://www.ushistory.org/documents/ - Here you can find the full texts of a number of documents related to US History. Some go back far beyond the founding of our nation but still had a vital impact.
https://online.hillsdale.edu/dashboard/courses – Free (yup I said Free) online courses from Hillsdale College. This college is completely self-funded and has gone so far as to offer college level coursework to “we the people”! Take a look and enjoy learning about our country!