Dear President Obama,
Let’s set aside the Constitution and all the talk of what the Founding Fathers wanted, or didn’t want, or believed in or didn’t believe in and focus upon what this great country of ours is all about. We are not a nation of nay-sayers. We are not now and have never been defeatists, pessimists, fatalists or believers in the words “It can’t be done.” We are and always have been a nation of energetic problem solvers who will always find a way.
America has always been a special and unique place comprised of some of the most innovative, dynamic, ambitious, undaunted and determined people, so full of grit, courage, fortitude and moral fiber to rival Julius Caesar and Alexander the Great. America has been built upon a faith in human equality and a faith in political democracy. Anyone born here has a chance to make something of him or herself. There is no European Caste system here. You are living proof of that.
Without question, the character of America has changed over the past two centuries, but when you think about it, really not that much. We were once a mighty rural and agrarian nation. Today we are obviously far more urban. We were once a slave holding nation, as well as a weak, debtor nation dependent upon other countries to keep us afloat. We have come from being a very provincial and obscure country to a world dominating super power that has surpassed the power, might, influence and prestige of even mighty Rome. We are a nation of pragmatists, innovators, inventors and idealists. And above all, we are a nation that can adapt.
Yes, we are a nation that has made mistakes. Yes, we are a nation consisting of corrupt, greedy and controlling individuals. But when you actually come to study America, you quickly come to the realization that by focusing upon the negatives, you are focusing on a very small and minute portion of what makes this country great.
Instead, I implore you to look upon those who did and continue to make us great.
Great, brave and undaunted explorers and adventurers like Captain Lewis and Captain Clark, John Smith, Kit Carson, Buffalo Bill Cody, John Wesley Powell, the Wright Brothers, Charles Lindbergh, Amelia Earhart, Chuck Yeager, John Glen, Neil Armstrong, Sally Ride, Betty Skelton and Sacagawea.
Inventors like Eli Whitney, Samuel Colt, Kettering, Edison and Henry Ford to name but a few from the past. There are so many more now that the list is becoming endless.
Visionaries like Horace Mann, Thomas Edison, John Fitch, Ida Rosenthal, Frederick Olmstead, William Mulholland, Juan Terry Trippe, Oprah, Russell Simmons, Walt Disney and Ted Turner.
People of conviction like Frederick Douglas, Black Elk, Booker T. Washington, Mother Ann Lee, Charles Finney, William Penn, Brigham Young, Martin Luther King, Jr., Betty Friedan, William F. Buckley, Jr. and Susan B. Anthony.
Military geniuses like Grant, Sherman, Patton, Eisenhower, MacArthur and Schwarzkopf.
Great writers like Louisa May Alcott, Emerson, Thoreau, Whitman, Twain, Stowe, Mencken, Will Rogers, Pyle, Steinbeck, Faulkner, Hemmingway, Wm. F. Buckley, Fitzgerald, Baldwin, Halberstam and so, so many others.
Scientists and physicians like Rittenhouse, Bartram, Einstein, Hubble, Clyde Tombaugh, Jonas Saulk, Dr. Hyland, Dr.William Stewart Halstead, Dr. DeBakey, Oppenheimer, Goddard and the list is endless.
An unbelievable, wide array of entertainers like Harry Houdini, Duke Ellington, Marilyn Monroe, Woodie Guthrie, Leonard Bernstein, Mahalia Jackson, Sinatra, Elvis, John Belushi, Robin Williams, BB King, Chet Atkins, Eric Clapton, Run DMZ, Maria Callas, Arthur Fiedler, Judith Anderson, Louis Armstrong, The Beasty Boys, Odetta, Aretha Franklin, George Lopez, George Carlin, Lena Horn, Judy Garland, Peggy Lee, Ella Fitzgerald, Gershwin, Bob Fosse, Madonna, Jonathan Winters, and the list is endless.
Business leaders like Welch, Watson, Gates, Walton, Kelleher, Bossidy, Ruth Handler, Mary Kay, Sloan, Ellison, Allen, Gerstner, Packard, Graham, McKnight, Coffin, Luce, Kellogg, Kroc, Disney, Procter, Heinz, Trump, Gerber, Kraft, Jobs, Schultz, Bloomberg, Goodyear, Dell, Smith, Haas, Birdseye, Forbes and a host of others who create jobs and put people to work.
Inspirations like Helen Keller, Laura Bridgman, Roberto Clemente, Paul Edlund, Jerral Hancock, Tillman, General Jonathan Wainwright IV, Coach Wooden, Ronald Reagan, Napoleon Hill and Dale Carnegie.
Engineers like the Roeblings, “Hurry Up” Crowe, Leslie Robertson, Lindenthal, Ammann, Holland and Fazlur Khan.
Humanitarians like Hoover, Carnegie, Rockefeller, Gates, and Gardner.
And I am quite confident that this list is indeed very incomplete. There is little doubt that I have failed to include a great many more.
I am under the impression, Mr. President that you believe all business people are full of greed and avarice and you have singled them out as targets. A failed ploy previously used by FDR against Insull, for example. Yet, there are great legends like Amadeo Giannini who created the Bank of Italy in order to give the little guy access to money. Or Sam Insull himself, who wanted all people, not just the wealthy, to have access to electricity. Philanthropy abounds, without whom many of the things the people have today wouldn’t exist without them. And that includes Rockefeller, Carnegie, Morgan and now Bill Gates.
America is a nation of believers and givers. We believe there is nothing we cannot do, nothing we cannot over come and nothing we won’t give to help someone out. We have built the Empire State Building, the Brooklyn Bridge, the Hoover Dam, the Sears Tower and the John Hancock. We have put a man on the moon, created telescopes that allow us to see and understand things never before dreamt possible. We have gone from the rotary dial party line telephone to the smart phone, iPod and iPad, and have become a connected nation of screen users in the blink of an eye. We have harnessed rivers, electrified the nation and bridged the world. The only question that remains and the question that always remains is, What’s Next!?!
I sense that your vision of America is one of doom, gloom, the end of prosperity and the end of our Can Do spirit. But let me tell you, Mr. President, I’ve lived in America for a full 62 years. I have worked in disasters, I was raised and schooled in the mid-West, I have worked for major corporations and worked with many small and medium sized family owned businesses and I can tell you with great conviction, you and your vision for America is dead wrong. I have been fortunate enough in my life time to actually meet and speak with some greats like Jack Welch, the Granatelli Brothers, Harvey McCay, Joe Mancuso, Gordon Marshall , Arthur Fiedler, Peter Drucker, Clyde Tombaugh and others. And I can assure you, Mr. President, that America is proud, unique and will never bend. America is comprised of Americans, regardless of their color, their beliefs, their gender or their place of birth. We are all still Americans and we are not about to become something other than what we are. And the innovators, thinkers, visionaries and great leaders will continue to come, whether born here or abroad. Because the world knows, America remains the land of Opportunity.
Even now, as Hurricane Irene’s devastation is being dealt with, we are not seeing an out pouring of help from other countries because it is not who they are. But it is who we are. It’s part of our character. Giving, helping, donating, volunteering, being humanitarian are all American traits. It’s what we do as Americans. And nothing brings us all together faster than a major disaster or an attack like 9/11 those ten short years ago.
By the way, Mr. President, in case you are not familiar with some of the names I mentioned above, I encourage you to Google them to see what they accomplished, what they had to over come, what they believed in, the sacrifices they had to make and why they are great Americans, all. And in another ten years there will be an entirely new generation of achievers, doers, innovators and thinkers to hail. It never ends and it never will end.