America's Strength is Sacrifice

Santa Clarita Signal • Opinion Column • Ethically Speaking • Nov. 12 weekender 2016

 America’s Strength

David W. Hegg

On the heels of one of the most dramatic presidential elections in recent memory the pundits have had a field day dissecting what happened, what worked, and what went wrong. For many, the stunning Trump victory calls us to reflect on just what makes America tick. Who are we? If we dig down to the foundation of our national soul, what do we find? There are certainly many right answers but I’ll offer two of them here.

This week my wife and I took a breather day and went to Disneyland. Just the two of us. The day offered perfect weather, great food, lots of coffee, and time to enjoy them all. Even standing in line was enjoyable as we retreated from the noise of the campaigns.

But mostly the day was filled with families. Everywhere we looked there were dads and moms pushing strollers, carrying infants, juggling popcorn, jackets and backpacks. They were everywhere. The park seemed to be filled with little legs, joyful laughter, squeals, and the smiles brought about by daddy and mommy hugs.

As I surveyed the scene from my chair, sipping my Starbucks, I felt light-hearted for the first time in a while. There, playing out before my eyes was the vibrancy of the American soul. I loved seeing fathers holding their daughters’ hands, lifting them to their shoulders, and even trying out a dance step or two as the Newsboys came singing their way down the street. But my greatest admiration is reserved for the mothers who bravely brought a whole gaggle of kids by themselves, maneuvering strollers like armored personnel carriers while deftly herding their laughing herd toward the next attraction.

Even at closing time, when the fatigue and frustration of the day surely had taken its toll, moms and dads were still gamely making life good for their kids. And it hit me. Parents who are committed to their kids, who sacrifice for them, and who raise them with love, laughter, and discipline have put a priority on being a family. In so doing, they help maintain the family unit as an essential element in keeping America strong, good, and great.

Then, on Friday we turned our eyes to those who have worn the uniform and served in the armed forces. As we honored our veterans, it was again evident that personal sacrifice and commitment to an ideal bigger than self lies at the heart of what it truly means to be an American. We owe a lasting debt of gratitude to our military, not only for their service, but also for the poignant reminder that America is great because so many have pushed past selfishness to offer sacrificial service to us all.  

As we look around our nation and wonder what our future will be, let’s not forget what is all around us. Families are still a basic building block of our society. Mothers and fathers are still laughing with their kids, still working hard to shape little minds and hearts to walk with integrity, faith, and love.

And every year a new generation of young men and women step up to the challenge of military service, understanding life is so much more than looking out for number one. This ought to give us hope, and remind us the real essential values of our society are not manufactured in Washington DC, but in the living rooms and backyards of your neighborhood and mine.

As we’ve just seen so radically portrayed, all politics really are local. The American people refuse to be talked down to, manipulated, lied to, or deceived. We also refuse to believe our national challenges can be left to professional politicians and pundits. We know what has made America great, and what continues to keep her great, and it starts with the sacrifice seen in every day parents, and everywhere soldiers.

We may not know for sure where America is headed. Time will tell. But we can take comfort knowing the great value of sacrificial service is still a vibrant stream flowing through our country. We see it in the young families around us, and in the veterans and service personnel who get up everyday ready to protect our liberty.