On June 14, 1777, the second Continental Congress passed “the flag resolution” adopting “The Stars and Stripes” as the official flag of the United States. Since then, the flag has been referred to as “the Star-Spangled Banner,” and “Old Glory.” Over the years, this flag has been the respected, protected and honored symbol representing the people and government of the United States.
Our nation, like any complicated product of human endeavor, has made mistakes. But, errors notwithstanding, the United States of America has been the greatest force for freedom, equality and security of any nation in history. Anyone sneering at our faults, numerous though they may be, without taking account of the greatness of our ideals and the lengths we go to in our efforts to realize these ideals suffers from a case of culpable shortsightedness.
When the Soviet Union collapsed, history offered mankind an opportunity for a new day in world affairs where the United States by exercise of strength, wisdom, compassion and discipline might help prepare the stage for a new era of international cooperation and economic growth. Sadly, we mishandled that opportunity and, without some heroics on our part, we may be on the verge of losing the chance to correct our errors.
Each year, when Flag Day rolls around, we should spend time in reflection. We should take pride in our country’s accomplishments. We should learn lessons from our mistakes. We should take stock of our current situation. And we should make a disciplined appraisal of where we need to go from here.
This year, we are heading full speed down the wrong path. If we don’t take quick, decisive corrective action, we may race past the point of no return.
On the domestic front, for example, a barely noticed news item may be the harbinger of a collective mindset that cannot possibly expect to thrive in the future. No nation can survive if it willfully burdens itself with massive incalculable financial obligations and no clear idea how to pay its burgeoning debts.
Consider this. Not long ago, the Congressional Budget Office released a report on the long-term financial impact of Obamacare. Buried in that report is a footnote revealing this shocking disclosure: “Provisions of the Affordable Care Act significantly modified existing federal programs and made changes to the Internal Revenue Code… Isolating the incremental effects of those provisions on previously existing programs and revenues four years after enactment is not possible.” In other words, the American people are saddled with a bureaucratic, administrative, economic, litigation infested juggernaut with no way to judge how much it’s going to cost. No household, no business, no government can survive for long with this type of unchecked financial irresponsibility. If something doesn’t change, collapse is just a matter of time.
On the international front, as I’m writing this column, the regular news is interrupted to inform that Al Qaeda affiliates are now in control of Tikrit in Iraq. This follows Al Qaeda-linked insurgent victories in the cities of Fallujah and Mosul. In other words, Iraqi real estate liberated and secured by the valor and sacrifice of America’s fighting men and women is now, once again, in enemy hands. Early reports indicate that many Iraqi troops (trained at American expense) discarded their weapons (paid for by the American taxpayer) and fled the field of combat.
These recent Al Qaeda triumphs will be seen by our enemies as further evidence that the United States is in retreat and the march toward the establishment of a worldwide Islamic caliphate is unstoppable. Sadly, these Al Qaeda victories can be attributed to the inexperience, arrogance, naïveté and downright foolishness of American politicians. As a consequence, the blood spilled and the hardships endured by our service men and women will have been squandered.
Each week, our enemies have the opportunity to read the headlines and gloat over yet another example of American mismanagement, immorality, incompetence, deceit, shortsightedness and apathy. Unless the American voters put on their work gloves and get busy ridding our government of the weeds and deadwood that are choking and paralyzing our political landscape, we will have no one but ourselves to blame when future generations look back with justified fury at our gross incompetence. “How could they have let things go so wrong?” will be their heartbreaking question.
This Flag Day, let’s reflect on the example bequeathed to us by “the greatest generation.” When their nation was threatened, they put their differences aside, rolled up their sleeves, went to work and accomplished miracles. We have the obligation, to do our best, to follow in their footsteps. I’m Hink and I’ll see ya.
MIKE HINKLE is a retired attorney and Edmond resident.