Teresa Forbes, a graduate of Dunwoody HS who will attend Valdosta State University in the fall, wrote this week’s column. This essay was the winning entry in the 2017 Voice of Democracy contest for Dunwoody/Sandy Springs VFW Post 10822.
George Santayana once said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Whether or not we’re doomed to relive certain parts of history, it is important that we remember what we have learned from the past.
Throughout history, the United States has been put through a series of trials and tribulations, getting beat up and worn out along the way but helping us learn how to stand tall. The history of America gives hope for the future because it reminds us that no matter what we’re going through we’ll learn a lesson that will help us grow back even stronger than before.
The Battle of Saratoga on October 17, 1777 taught the colonists something about the pursuit of liberty. The Continental Army had seemingly been fighting a battle they were never going to win. They had not had a major victory against the British and morale was running low. But when about 20,000 colonists surrounded the men under the control of the British General John Burgoyne in Saratoga, the British were forced into surrender.
This was an important triumph for the patriots as it finally convinced King Louis XVI that the states’ independence was worthy enough to be recognized. With that, the French entered the war on the side of the former colonies. The Battle of Saratoga not only was a major turning point in the Revolutionary War but it also assured the colonists that liberty was no longer a far-off dream but now a reality that was at their fingertips.
The Civil War helped teach the United States the equality of all human life even though slavery had been a long-held institution in much of the country. Although the Civil War did not start as a fight over the status of slaves, it quickly evolved into a war over whether or not slaves deserved to be treated as human beings.
Abraham Lincoln, in his Second Inaugural Address, said that “until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword” the Union would continue in its struggle with the Confederacy. These words marked the first time someone as powerful as the president had declared slaves as equal to their masters.
The attacks on the Twin Towers, the Pentagon, and the flight that crashed in Pennsylvania on September 11, 2001 were the worst attacks on the modern United States, but they still reminded us of the unity that we are all capable of in this country. In the days following the attacks, relief efforts flooded in from across the country. Interest in army enlistments increased dramatically.
That’s one of the great things about the United States; we have consistently shown that in the darkest of times we come together to give help to those who need it the most.
I think that Faith Hill summed up the American spirit pretty well in her song “American Heart”: “It bleeds,/ It scars,/ But it shines when times get hard,/ and you can’t break an American heart.” The United States is a nation full of imperfect people, but most are striving to improve themselves and their communities. Those living in our great country should not focus on weaknesses but rather on their strengths, and the strengths of our republic. The greatness of our United States, and of its peoples, are the same as they have been, and always will be–a steadfast focus on liberty, equality, and unity.
PS. Lord Banjo and I will be attending Camp Flashback—for rising 2nd–5th graders—at the Donaldson-Bannister House the week of July 9. Will you? Visit the website, www.CampFlashback.org or email email@example.com for information.
Kathy is a Sandy Springs resident. Find her books, “Lord Banjo the Royal Pooch” and “The Ink Penn: Celebrating the Magic in the Everyday,” at the Enchanted Forest, Amy’s Hallmark at the Forum, and on Amazon. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org, and follow her on Facebook, www.facebook.com/KathyManosPennAuthor/.