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History – The American Spirit

Posted on Thursday, February 24, 2022
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by AMAC, Robert B. Charles
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19 Comments
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History is like that dusty chest you dug through as a kid, filled with forgotten lessons. Right now, our world seems upside down – endless media loops on Russia and Ukraine, China, border busters, drug overdoses, frail president, feckless vice president, and runaway inflation. But take heart.

Just when you think you live in end times, facing challenges unlike what others faced, can barely go on – frustrated, agitated, tired, mired in muck, and bureaucracy to political malaise; history pops up, reminding you things have been far worse and gotten far better.

Look at this moment – 80 years ago. Put aside a world that had no microwaves, mobile phones, or plasma television. On that day, Americans closed handmade blackout curtains each night – afraid of a surprise German or Japanese attack, rationed food, helped neighbors. War was here.

Public nerves were frayed and would get more frayed. Japan attacked Hawaii without warning, on a Sunday months before, then Germany declared war. Easy-go-lucky boys soon became men in a crucible of pain, seeing and doing what they thought they never would. Families faced losses that changed a nation, a dozen years after the Great Depression, unlike anything since.

Even at war, things got grimmer – it looked like defeat before we could get our legs. In January 1942, the Philippines – an American colony – was occupied by Japan. Things continued to slide.

Democrat Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR) knew, however, was way beyond these facts. “The spirit of the American people was never higher than it is today—the Union was never more closely knit together—this country was never more deeply determined to face the solemn tasks before it.” Indeed, we were, because we needed to be.

“Difficult choices may have to be made in the months to come,” but “we do not shrink from such decisions.” Instead, as in other times, Americans “and those united with us will make those decisions with courage and determination.”

FDR made mistakes, but here he was right. The Germans and Russians clashed, the Japanese expanded into the West Dutch Indies, and Nazis began extinguishing innocent souls in their horrific “final solution.”

Axis forces advanced, a Japanese landing on the Bismarck Archipelago, overrunning Burma (now Myanmar), then Singapore (where they captured 80,000 British troops). Even Winston Churchill was stunned, calling it “the worse disaster in British military history.”

Now the Americans got their footing. FDR pushed “fireside chats,” a big one 80 years ago this very week. In it, he said: “Speaking for the United States of America, let me say once and for all to the people of the world: We Americans have been compelled to yield ground, but we will regain it. We … are committed to destruction of the militarism of Japan and Germany,” and “we are daily increasing our strength.” 

So we were, West and East. When war broke out, we had one ready division, Germany 60. Japan caught us by surprise, but Americans do not recoil. FDR quoted from the Revolutionary Era, Thomas Paine. “These are the times that try men’s souls.” He described our powers of resilience.

Compressing history, Japan won the Battle of Java Sea, kept moving. German air attacks began on Malta, widened. By April, 10,000 Americans were captured, Bataan Death March, more horrors. 

A brave squadron of American aviators, stretching to do the impossible, rigged bombers for a one-way bombing of Tokyo. Jimmy Doolittle’s Raiders. They left the carrier deck with enough fuel to get there, and ditch. Some lived, others not – but the move shocked Japan.

By May, the Battle of Coral Sea saw the USS Lexington sunk, Japan down a light carrier. The news was not good, from Burma to Europe. But the American spirit never flagged – never.   

Tellingly – and history is like this – a turning point comes, and some feel it coming. American intuition, resolve, freedom-loving citizens at war on land, sea, and air – were not about to bow. The date was June 1942, the 80th anniversary now four months out.

A titanic battle was brewing in the Pacific. Japan was cocky. But history shows free people defending their freedom are a powerful force, turned on against monarchy, communism, socialism, and fascism.

Between the 3rd and 6th of June 1942, the world – God himself – witnessed the awesome power of faith and freedom coming to grips, undeterred and head-on, with fascism, militarism, and imperial arrogance.

In the Battle of Midway, credit to the unbreakable American spirits, unremitting dedication by countless souls, we sank four Japanese aircraft carriers, and the cost of the USS Yorktown. This time, Japan was in shock.

In history and physics, tides turn on one single wave. The wave can be long in coming but comes. Seeing it ahead is hard, but seeing the tide has turned – once it does – is not. Midway, American tenacity at that moment, turned the tide – first in the Pacific, arguably in the war. We had three years more of fighting, but the world knew:  Never, ever, ever count the Americans out – ever.

All of this is to say something simpler. We, the American People, are instinctive and intrepid, sometimes rash and insufferably confident, generally persistent, and when resolved, unyielding. When chips are down, threats up, and we may seem low – do not underestimate what lurks within. We are easy to underestimate and hard to defeat when resolved to win. This time, right now, turns on resolve.

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Patricia Hefferan
Patricia Hefferan
2 years ago

Well-written and inspiring. All we need is a new POTUS and a new cabinet. It is not Americans who are weak and failing. It is that part of the government run by Democrats.

Margaret ClarkPrice
Margaret ClarkPrice
2 years ago

We allowed the “shutting out of God” and now, we either pay the price or bring Him back into our hearts, families, businesses, schools and government! May God have mercy!

Karen
Karen
2 years ago

We’ve been fighting communism, socialism for many, many years. We should have faith in the American people. We will win this one too!!!!!! Go Brandon.

anna hubert
anna hubert
2 years ago

those were the days of men and heroes the’ve been replaced by girlie boys and antiheroes that’s why we are in such a mess totally lost without a compass

PaulE
PaulE
2 years ago

Very good article RBC. Yes, the American people are indeed resilient. Even as soft as we have become as a nation, there are still many that can stand up to any challenge in this country. However, there are a couple of major differences between then and now:

1) We have as a POTUS a man with obvious mental challenges. They are two-fold in nature. One is that Biden was never known for being either particularly bright or knowledgeable on any issues. He has surrounded himself with probably the worse advisors one could assemble for his administration. Second, we have the first ever POTUS with early and obvious signs of dementia facing off against tack sharp and ruthless leaders in the form of both Putin and Xi.

2) Back then, the objective was to defeat the enemy. Today, the objective of this administration is to appease the enemy and hope they decide to go away. FDR used all the available tools at his disposal against the Japanese. Biden on the other hand has taken the approach of unilaterally removing a number of effective, non-military options from consideration even before Russia moved into Ukraine. What is left on our side is frankly very weak tea on the economic and diplomatic sanctions side.

None of the issues the world is currently facing, with regard to either Russia and China, had to occur. Weakness and incompetence invite aggression and this administration has demonstrated both in ample portions since taking power last year. The American people are simply left to deal with the consequences, like we always do.

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