Friday, December 20, 2013

Valley Forge: The Crucible of American Liberty

By Rick Dalton
As we hustle around this Christmas season, complaining about this or that, grumbling about the terrible weather, I think it would be good for us to remember a different time, under different circumstances, when hardships we cannot begin to understand were the regular course of daily life.  I speak of Valley Forge Pennsylvania.  Two hundred Thirty six years ago today, on 20 December 1777, the rag-tag army of volunteers under George Washington shivered in the bitter cold, naked, starving and yet, hopeful.  They died at the rate of twelve per day.

For what?  For an idea.

 For freedom.

May we somehow find the courage and hope today to meet the challenges of our own Valley Forge today. Freedom is not free.  And freedom, with the accompanying personal responsibility of every citizen, is the only answer to our problems in America.  This account below taken entirely  from American Minute, and I encourage you to go to the site and subscribe to the free newsletter..  There is an excellent archive of previous editions.   Merry Christmas and Godspeed.


The Distinguished Character of Patriot
Taken from “American Minute” by Bill Federer

After the American victory at Saratoga, British General Howe struck back by driving the patriots out of Philadelphia. On DECEMBER 19, 1777, over 11,000 American soldiers set up camp at Valley Forge, just 25 miles outside Philadelphia. Meanwhile, another 11,000 Americans were dying on British starving ships.

Soldiers at Valley Forge were from every State in the new union, some as young as 12 and others as old as 60.Among them were Marquis de Lafayette and John Marshall, the future Chief Justice.

Though most were of European descent, some were African American and American Indian.Lacking food and supplies, soldiers died at the rate of twelve per day.Over 2,500 froze to death in bitter cold, or perished from hunger, typhoid, jaundice, dysentery, and pneumonia.  In addition, hundreds of horses perished in the freezing weather.

A Committee from Congress reported on the soldiers:

"Feet and legs froze till they became black, and it was often necessary to amputate them.”  Of the wives and children who followed the army, mending clothes, doing laundry and scavenging for food, an estimated 500 died.

Two days before Christmas, George Washington wrote:
  "We have this day no less than 2,873 men in camp unfit for duty because they are barefooted and otherwise naked."
Washington wrote:
"We have this day no less than 2,873 men in camp unfit for duty because they are barefooted and otherwise naked."

On April 21, 1778, Washington wrote to Lt. Col. John Banister:
"No history...can furnish an instance of an army's suffering such uncommon hardships as ours has done, and bearing them with the same patience and fortitude
To see men without clothes to cover their nakedness, without blankets to lay on, without shoes, by which their marches might be traced by the blood from their feet, and almost as often without provisions...marching through frost and snow, and at Christmas taking up their winter quarters within a day's march of the enemy, without a house or hut to cover them...can scarce be paralleled. 

Despite these conditions, soldiers prepared to fight.

In February, 1778, there arrived in the camp a Prussian drill master, Baron Friedrich von Steuben, who had been a member of the elite General Staff of Frederick the Great, King of Prussia.  Baron von Steuben, who was sent with the recommendation of  Ben Franklin, drilled the soldiers daily, transforming the American volunteers into an army. 

Lutheran Pastor Henry Muhlenberg, whose sons Peter and Frederick served in the First U.S. Congress, wrote in The Notebook of a Colonial Clergyman

"I heard a fine example today, namely, that His Excellency General Washington rode around among his army yesterday and admonished each and every one to fear God, to put away the wickedness ... and to practice the Christian virtues ... 
God has ... marvelously, preserved him from harm in the midst of countless perils, ambuscades, fatigues.”

Washington successfully kept the army intact through the devastating winter, and gave the order at Valley Forge, April 12, 1778:

"The Honorable Congress having thought proper to recommend to the United States of America to set apart Wednesday, the 22nd inst., to be observed as a day of  Fasting, Humiliation and Prayer, that at one time, and with one voice, the righteous dispensations of  Providence may be acknowledged, and  His goodness and mercy towards our arms supplicated and implored:

“The General directs that the day shall be most religiously observed in the Army; that no work shall be done thereon, and that the several chaplains do prepare discourses."

On May 2, 1778, Washington ordered:

"The Commander-in-Chief directs that Divine service be performed every Sunday...To the distinguished character of Patriot, it should be our highest Glory to laud the more distinguished Character of Christian.”


Friday, December 6, 2013

Cynicism: A Dreadful Malady, by Rick Dalton

Rick Dalton

"A cynic is a man who when he smells flowers, looks around for a coffin." 
H.L. Mencken 
A friend of mine, (and he is truly a dear friend) who has finally come to the realization that America is in deep trouble, and that Obama (the man he voted for in 2008) is not the hope of the world, has become so cynical because of his diligent study of the signs of the times, that he sees no way out short of violent revolution.  here's what he said in a recent email:
It boils down to this.  The US is no longer the Republic the founding fathers put together.  "Because of this, there is NO POLITICAL SOLUTION to getting “back to the founding fathers”.  That ship sailed long ago.  Thinking that the US can be fixed politically (you know, that the people are going to magically become more moral, patriotic) is like rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.  If it gives you goose bumps to listen to Reagan and his canned speech, then enjoy yourself with that."... Reagan is a puppet trying to foster nationalistic sentiments…no more, no less."

My friend (let's call him Frank) confuses nationalism with patriotism, and believes they are the same.   Not so.  Frank says he has no patriotism for America.  But is it still possible to have patriotic feelings toward America in spite of the problems we have?  Frank and I both agree on the scope of corruption and the goal of the criminal conspiracy that wants to take us down.  But I am proud to be called a patriot, and  Frank says patriotism has been "burned out" of him. Well, here's what patriotism is to me: 

“Patriotism means unqualified and unwavering love for the nation, which implies not uncritical eagerness to serve, not support for unjust claims, but frank assessment of its vices and sins, and penitence for them”
            ~Alexander Solzhenitsyn~


Solzhenitsyn knows a lot about  living in a nation that is ruled by evil people, and about patriotism.  He did what he did, risking his life to try and increase freedom in The Soviet Union, because he loved his mother country in spite of her sins.  He worked tirelessly for a better country, and he never gave in to crippling cynicism.

                 "What is a cynic?  A man who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.
                ~Oscar Wilde~

This brings me to the main point of this post.

The only way to lose, in the end, is to give up.

The cynic can see all the faults in America; he can see all the dead-ends blocked off by the ruling elite.  Well, here's how Frank put it in an email to me today, Thanksgiving day:

"The powers that be have such power that there is no political solution (no reason to enter public office)

·         The Constitution is dead

·         It doesn’t matter who you vote for, the owners can lose enough votes to get their man in (Romney and the lost 8 million votes)

·         Ron Paul could never be in the White House (like Romney) because the powers at be can’t have a moral man in the presidency

·         Alex Jones- good
·         We will not be able to win our Liberty back..."

 So why try?  Why not just give up, and get ready to be enslaved in a massive dictatorship?  Why not become a government informant and at least earn some brownie points with the masters?  I have archived over five-hundred emails with Frank, and after looking back through them, I can't find a single positive statement about the future.  Not a single account of something he is doing to help turn the situation around.  Not a single suggestion or idea of something that can be done to improve our lot in America.  It kind of makes me want to go out and eat worms.

There's not a single mention in  Frank's emails of any part of the Constitution that we can still use to increase freedom, or any part that he thinks is still operative. Wow, Frank, we're toast, we're doomed.  The only answer, as he has told me many times is revolution.  I say, maybe, someday, but not yet.

One of Frank's favorite people is Ron Paul.  Dr. Paul knows how bad it is in America.  He's been warning about it for decades.  Yet, in spite of all our looming difficulties, he is still hopeful and positive in his approach.  In a recent video prepared for his supporters, and, I might venture, even for people like Frank, Ron Paul spoke of two things that give him encouragement.  First, he is grateful for the First Amendment that allows him - and me -  to speak out and criticize the policies of government that hold us back, to write about our heritage of freedom and the answers the Founders provided us.  Ron Paul has hope....and he's doing something about it.  Second, he has hope in the rising generation.  Which is why he has dedicated his life to education.  And in a small way, that's my chosen avenue to help in the fight for freedom.

OK, so what about other informed Americans' states of mind?  And maybe interplanetary travelers?
Have you ever noticed that heroes,  be they revolutionary war heroes, inventors, or the millions of

everyday heroes who walk the streets, work in the factories and homes of America, just seem to get up each day and continue to provide for their families, help others, contribute to their communities and just keep on keepin' on?

And when they see the corruption, corporate cronyism, criminal escapades and political skullduggery, they don't get discouraged and cynical.  They don't complain and point out everything that is wrong while sitting in their easy chairs yelling at the TV.  They find something they can do to help.

Take Patrick Henry.  He didn't hid his head in the sand, and he didn't shy away from the cold hard truth.  And he spread the word to to others, along with leadership in righting the wrongs of the British government.  For him, it was all or
nothing, "liberty or death."

"For my part, whatever anguish of spirit it may cost, I am willing to know the whole truth; to know the worst and provide for it."

So Frank, what I'm trying to say, is that yes, we do need to know how bad it is, but we also need to know what can be done to help improve the situation, if only in our local area.  I urge all to try and locate a copy of the May 25th 1998 edition of The New American magazine, published by the the John Birch Society.  An article therein, titled "Hope's Foundation".  This article quotes Robert E. Lee, who said,
"My experience of men has neither disposed me to think worse of them, nor indisposed me to serve them; nor, in spite of failures, which I lament, of errors, which I now see and acknowledge, or of the present state of affairs, do I despair of the future.  The march of Providence is so slow, and our desires so impatient, the work of progress is so immense, and our means of aiding it so feeble, the life of humanity being so long, and that of the individual so brief, that we often see the ebb of the advancing wave, and are thus discouraged.
"It is history that teaches us to hope." 
Not so, says my friend Frank.  He said to me, when I told him about the marvelous intervention of God to save Boston, after the prayers of it's citizens beseeching God to turn back a seemingly invincible armada of French warships, that We can't "magically" save the Country, "that ship has already sailed"?
Reverend Thomas Prince didn't get the memo."  And in another email, after I reminded him that principles are eternal, Frank had this to say:
"Whether or not the Republic was founded on religious principles doesn’t matter to me, because 1)the Republic is dead, the Declaration of Independence is a declaration of a war that is over, and the Constitution is dead.
"No further comment on it (from me) is needed."
So, that's the way it is, huh Frank?  That's pretty cynical.  So where's my shovel?  I'll just go dig a hole and crawl in, and maybe eat some worms.   There is no forward thrust in cynicism.  Or, as Peggy Noonan says,
 "Cynicism is not realistic and tough. It's unrealistic and kind of cowardly because it means you don't have to try."
So, Frank, I want to make two things clear:   (1) I know things are bad, I know elections are rigged, I know the government is spying on us, I know corruption is entrenched in high places, I know all that.  I have been warning about it for over 35 years.  (2)  But, there is another thing that I know.  I know, whether the Constitution is dead or not, so was Lazarus.  I know:

God is not dead, nor doth He sleep.

And as Benjamin Franklin said, "God governs in the affairs of men".  And I know that one of the major causes, if not THE major cause of our predicament is the fact that we have lost God's promised protection on this land because of our wickedness.  The God of the Bible warns us that nations, as well as individuals will reap blessings or cursings based upon whether or  not we follow His rules and commandments of interpersonal and international behavior.  "Blessed is the Nation Whose God is the Lord", is not just a cute slogan.  And it has it's opposite.  Liberty is the "natural", or created state of man, and the rights of life, liberty and property are the endowment of our Creator.

He commanded his people, long ago, to "proclaim liberty throughout the land, unto all the inhabitants thereof." (Leviticus 25:10).  That is our heritage, that is our gift from God, and we can keep it only upon principles He has set forth.  He can save us; He has saved America more than once, and as Robert E. Lee said, history teaches us to hope.

God is not dead, nor doth He sleep.  We have no reason to give up, to let the disease of cynicism paralyze us.  Evil triumphs when good men do nothing.

Trying times

My friend Frank is actually doing something, albeit sad.  He is "prepping" as we all should be, but he is preparing to leave America for a country with more freedom.  He is going to be a deserter. This saddens me.  Times are tough, things look bleak, just like they did December 23rd, 1776, when George Washington had a pamphlet read to his weary, hungry and outnumbered troops. In the pamphlet "The American Crisis", Thomas Paine had something to say about this:
These are the times that try men's souls: The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of his country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman.
I'm sorry, but those words, though written over two centuries ago, are not dead.  They ring out today lout and clear to all who will hear.  Washington, Paine, Madison, Monroe, and all the brave soldiers  who fought  in the Battle of Trenton two days later, refused to let cynicism take over their minds and bodies. Their miraculous success was amazing, even to Washington himself, and caused him to thank God.  This is a lesson that, once again, as Lee told us, "it is history that teaches us to hope."

Rome offers innumerable lessons from the past that are as important today as if they happened only yesterday.  Rome's once majestic Republic crumbled beneath the weight of licentiousness, greed and lust for power.  The situation was hopeless, yet Marcus Tullius Cicero spoke out, warned, pleaded with and scolded his fellow leaders to turn back and embrace once again the principles and practices that made of Rome the envy of the world.  Knowing of the intrigue and hate-inspired jealousy of those whose careers he threatened, he kept on, refusing to give into cynicism.  In the end, he gave his life, a victim of assassination, rather than stop his valiant efforts to increase liberty, integrity and greatness in his beloved Rome.  Thus, he is remembered as "the man who tried to save Rome".

To sum up, Frank is a dear friend of mine.  I have stood by him in very difficult times, and I have no doubt that he would to the same for me if the opportunity arose. He and I have many things in common, among them music and golf.  And though we disagree, our friendship remains strong.

In the arena of ideas is where our differences lie.  Frank's views are not unique.  There seems to be an outbreak of this malady, cynicism.  Many are infected.  But there is a vaccine and a treatment protocol.  They are both the same.

As the Founders wrote in the Northwest Ordinance, the same Congress that had just ratified the new Constitution,
Art. 3. "Religion, morality, and knowledge, being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged."

So there you have it, religion, morality and knowledge are essential to freedom, and that is why Bibles and Hymnals were purchased by Congress and state governments for use in the schools.  These principles are the answer, the recipe, and the means for our revival.

And they were placed in order of importance in the document. 

My friends, during this "holiday" season, let us never forget what holiday it is that we are celebrating; let us not forget our part in this vast undertaking of defending liberty and God-given rights.

Say no to cynicism.  Inoculate yourself against its ravages.  If you find yourself  with symptoms, stop, take a moment look at history, look at your children, look to the Word of God, and look to the many examples in your life today who are shining examples of hope, action and faithfulness.

Then, pick yourself up, prayerfully find something you can actually do to spread the word of freedom. Share information with your friends, family and neighbors, volunteer with a good organization that is established and respected.  Donate to the same.

Longfellow was not a victim nor a carrier of cynicism.
I heard the bells on Christmas day
Their old familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet the words repeat
Of peace on earth, good will to men.
And thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along the unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.
Till ringing, singing on its way
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime, a chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good will to men.
And in despair I bowed my head
“There is no peace on earth,” I said,
“For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.”
Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail
With peace on earth, good will to men.”

This is a long post, but I am constrained to do it.  I close with this excerpt from a great American, Ezra Taft Benson, secretary of Agriculture under Eisenhower, and President and Prophet of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints:
“There are people today all over the world who in their own courageous and sometimes quiet ways are working for freedom. In many cases we will never know until the next life all they sacrificed for liberty. These patriots are receiving heaven's applause for the role they are playing, and in the long run that applause will be louder and longer than any they could receive in this world.

"Which leads me to the second blind spot of those who hesitate to get into the fight. And that is their failure to realize that we will win in the long run, and for keeps, and that they pass up great blessings by not getting into the battle now when the odds are against us and the rewards are greatest.

"The only questions, before the final victory, are, first, ‘What stand will each of us take in this struggle?’ and second, ‘How much tragedy can be avoided by doing something now?’

"Time is on the side of truth—and truth is eternal. Those who are fighting against freedom may feel confident now, but they are shortsighted.

"This is still God's world. The forces of evil, working through some mortals, have made a mess of a good part of it. But it is still God's world. In due time, when each of us has had a chance to prove ourselves-including whether or not we are going to stand up for freedom—God will interject himself, and the final and eternal victory shall be for free agency. And then shall those complacent people on the sidelines, and those who took the wrong but temporarily popular course, lament their decisions. To the patriots I say this: Take that long eternal look. Stand up for freedom, no matter what the cost. Stand up and be counted. It can help to save your soul-and maybe your country.(Ezra Taft Benson, An Enemy Hath Done This, p. 62.)
 Let's get to work.