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Born With an iPhone

Posted on Thursday, December 28, 2023
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by AMAC, Robert B. Charles
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Set of multicolored Apple iPhones 6s top view flat lay with iOS 10 on the screen and back side lies on purple surface. High quality studio shot made in Apple style.

When the last of “Generation Y” (born 1980-1994) turned 13, before the last of “Generation Z” was born (1995-2009), and before all of “Generation Alpha” (2010-2014) arrived, the iPhone was part of America’s culture (2007). These generations only know a world with iPhones. But America is more than iPhones.

History – what happened before we happened – often escapes us, and never more than now. As the world speeds up, things get taken for granted that only a few years before did not exist, yet we rush on.

If this has always been so, one generation on horses and next in cars, one generation elated by the radio and next watching television, one generation in trains and next on planes, one vulnerable to infection and next enjoying antibiotics – the pace of change is changing, accelerating, and that minimizes history.

Missing is an appreciation for the process of history, how it is made, how daydreamers and night owls, those who intently imagine the impossible, are aided by freedom, free markets, courage, and experimentation, risk takers and thing makers, to create what is from what was, making dreams real.

To understand what is around us, to appreciate its origins and what is expected of us by those who did what they did to get us here, you have to stop, step outside yourself, and begin to wonder backward.

How did we get the iPhone, email, text messaging, cameras, medical monitors, calculators, flashlights, alarm clocks, electronic music, instant news, video images in real-time, online instruction, food delivered, appointments made, coffee ordered, movies, weather, modern merchandise, every odd device – and, incredibly enough, all those in one hand, anything to buy or bid, more than all the kings ever did?

The answer, in a word, is freedom – the freedom to think, dream, experiment, fail, and start again; to imagine a place where God-given rights attach to everyone and then create that place; the freedom to move from cotton gin to clothes made of recycled plastic, from paper kites to jet engines, from telegraph to telephone, from clunky computer and rocket engines that put men on the moon to a pocket full of rare earths with one million times that early in-flight computing power, what we call the iPhone.

Freedom is at the heart of the advances America calls our history, material and civil, economic and political, long and labored, hard-bitten, hallowed, and legal, so much owed to daring entrepreneurs, dogged factory workers, undaunted farmers, and unstoppable warriors – we can never pay it back.

America is not just material advances of course, or advances in the human condition, new medicines, conveniences, ways of transportation or communication, civil rights, or what we even see. America is actually – and our history also is – more about what we do not see, not what is visible but invisible.

Courage and inspiration, resilience and tenacity, faith when that is all you have, determination when that is all can win the day, love when that is the difference between saving your fellow man and not – those are what no one sees, what creates the American family, at the heart of our history.

That iPhone is about the courage shown by men who fought and those who prayed when they did, who nursed them back to health on their return home, or visited their graves and raised their children when they did not come home.

That iPhone is about Americans who died at Lexington and Concord, Bunker Hill, Cowpens, Yorktown and Valley Forge; later at Gettysburg and Vicksburg, then the Somme and Marne, beyond that Normandy, Okinawa, Iwo, or at Chosin Reservoir, Inchon, Pusan, or Khe Sanh, Hamburger Hill, and Hu, later in places like Panama, Somalia, Kuwait, Iraq, and Afghanistan, wherever freedom’s beachhead called.

Truth is, the iPhone is America writ small – this place, this people to whom 413 Nobel Prizes have been awarded, to Russia’s modest 30 and China’s scant eight. The iPhone is just an iteration of freedom’s reach, the latest iteration of freedom, which never comes easy, and is never preserved without a fight.

So, when young Americans wonder how lucky they are to have an iPhone – or do not wonder but should – the answer is very.  They are lucky beyond the wildest dreams of most who made that miracle in their pocket possible, who dreamed, worked, fought, tried, died, and overcame, who suffered and took a stand, and appreciated freedom so they could hold an iPhone in their hand.

One last thing. What do you think they would ask of Generations Y, X, and Alpha today, before they nodded, smiled, and watched them play, before they bid them live, and let them be? Just this: That they take time to know history.

Robert Charles is a former Assistant Secretary of State under Colin Powell, former Reagan and Bush 41 White House staffer, attorney, and naval intelligence officer (USNR). He wrote “Narcotics and Terrorism” (2003), “Eagles and Evergreens” (2018), and is National Spokesman for AMAC.

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Jimmy P
Jimmy P
4 months ago

Consider for a moment how many people inhabit the earth. Next, think about how many people are American citizens. Finally, do the math and contemplate how incredibly lucky we are to have been born or be naturalized Americans. The odds are not in most human’s favor yet a large percentage of Americans either want to do away with America and make it some God-awful socialist/communist craphole, or they squander their God-given good fortune in perpetual victimhood instead of grasping the amazing opportunities we all have to make our own lives better for ourselves and our families. We are so blessed to be Americans, and at the same time, I am sad for those that refuse to take advantage of their divine inheritance.

Carol
Carol
4 months ago

I remember back in the early 80’s taking computer classes and my professor telling our class that one day we would all be carrying computers in our hands! And we were still punching cards!!! I didn’t believe him, but here we are with smart phones!!!! I’m so grateful to all those who came before me and gave us so much to build on. And God who gave us ALL! I love my smart phone because it lets me listen to music and watch videos of those who have left us as well as keep in touch with those who live to far for me to travel to. I pray that all spend time looking for ways to be grateful, cuz it’s gratitude that makes one humble and happy at the same time!

Stephen Russell
Stephen Russell
4 months ago

I use Android phone only

Jerold Patchon
Jerold Patchon
4 months ago

Awesome article!!

Nick
Nick
4 months ago

This man literally does not know what he’s saying.

Ellen Lerner
Ellen Lerner
4 months ago

Yes, I think the iPhone is a marvel of our age. However, it’s gone way beyond what I would like as now I am a senior citizen and too many bells and whistles on this phone for me to keep up with or even understand. I just bought after seven years I knew iPhone for About $1200 that’s a hell of a lot of money. I never thought I’d spend them something like that, what’s then I don’t know how I could get along without it. My whole life is in this phone and I’m so worried I might forget it somewhere and I have a couple times, but luckily was able to retrieve it.

Robert Zuccaro
Robert Zuccaro
4 months ago

No more folding maps or looking for a phone booth or waiting by a broken down car for hours until a cop stops. I dumped about 1200 cds after subscribing to Spotify and Bluetooth-ing any music I feel like. Technology literally rocks! I android though; hated Apple nagging me for passwords or I-cloud updates!

RC100
RC100
4 months ago

AMEN!

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