Here’s what he’d say to Washington, Jefferson and Franklin

Published 9:20 pm Saturday, September 8, 2012

A week ago, I encouraged high school and middle school students to participate in the Veterans of Foreign Wars Voice of Democracy contest. Thousands of dollars in scholarship money is available. The topics are “Is the Constitution still relevant?” and “What would I tell the founding fathers?”

So what would you say to George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and Ben Franklin if you had the chance?

“Thanks,” would be a nice start.

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Thanks for devising a framework for a nation like no other, where prosperity can be attained through blood, sweat, hard work and little interference from the impediments that forced all of you to seek independence in the first place. It has been a tough slog at times, but each generation has come out better because of sacrifice, dedication and diligence.

America has been called the shining star on the hill, the beacon for freedom-loving people the world over. Families seeking better lives will float on a raft for days in high seas for a chance at what we all have been blessed with — the freedom to succeed or fail on our own merits.

We have survived the country’s fracture starting in 1861 and lasting four miserable years and costing more than 600,000 lives. Chasms had formed so wide the fabric of the United States was being shredded through gray smoke and hot lead. Brothers were slaughtering brothers by the ten-thousand. But we persevered and held the Union together.

Because of that fight, the scourge of slavery — I am aware most of you had slaves — was abolished. In a country with a tenet being, “all men are created equal,” they weren’t; now we are.

We expanded our reach to the blue waters of the Pacific Ocean, and then farther to the strategic lands of Hawaii and Alaska.

We pushed back despots — twice — who had goals of conquering the world. The first war to end all wars, sadly, was followed by the second war to end all wars. Thank God we have not bore witness to the third war to end all wars.

We’ve also swayed mightily. The push to remove God from all things public is showing no signs of abating. We’ve allowed the government, under the framework you created, to be mother, father, overlooker and provider to millions who rely on mother government for the most basic needs. Too many babies are being born to babies. The family unit is deteriorating each day.

And the debt. We’ve allowed our leaders to print money at will, borrow like money grows on trees and straddle the people with debt and obligations far exceeding the ability to pay it back.

The worst part, there is no leadership to get things done. Spending 75 percent more each year than is taken in is a math equation likely not to work out. The people addicted to government — and the goodies it hands out — still outnumber the ones who see the big problem, so the spineless leaders keep whistling to the printing presses.

The chasms in how we view this country and its direction are again widening to unfathomable distances, especially in regards to the role of the federal government. We know what happened the last time those chasms widened beyond comprehension.

But all is not lost. From Valley Forge to Vicksburg to the 1929 stock market collapse to the Battle of the Bulge, Americans somehow have come out the other side better because of it. The spirit of what you created has always outlasted the challenges faced.

You rose together in defiance, against insurmountable odds to create a country blessed by the Almighty, where anything can be accomplished and all obstacles can be overcome.

Thank you for the vision. And apologies for straying so far away.

Sean P. Murphy can be reached at