Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. (Photo by Otto Herschan Collection/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
America! Since our founding we have stood tall against every assault and every enemy. This is not the time to despair. Rather, we need to go beyond simply recognizing today's threats and embrace the spirit of a nation that has weathered the worst our foes have ever thrown against us.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, one of America's most vigorous patriots, used the power of poetry to rally his fellow citizens and remain true to the steadfast courage of our forefathers when he penned, "The Building of the Ship." The poem compares building a ship to building a nation and within the verses he implores us to defend it!
Their words still ring out: "In spite of Rock or Tempest roar, in spite of false lights on the shore."
Assaults against America continue today, both from overseas enemies and from within our own borders. Further, social media has acted as an accelerant for those seeking to divide us. Political operatives masquerading as journalists have used their platforms to further advance their cynical agendas. (Sadly, this is not the first time in American history that "journalists" have sought to destroy the reputations of White House occupants such as Donald Trump. Lincoln was the subject of countless lies -- but those reporters had no access to Twitter or Facebook. The damage they inflict now on our nation is incalculable.)
Our nation also is confronting the abdicators of their sacred Oath of Office; politicians, members of the judiciary and others state and federal institutions who have solemnly sworn to "defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic." Cynically, they seem to evolve into the very enemies from whom they swore to protect us.
More damaging to our nation is that they are never held to account. Questions have been asked about matters from subpoenaed evidence that was destroyed to election laws that are apparently bypassed -- with never any negative consequences for those who destroyed the evidence or bypassed the laws.
Overseas enemies of our democracy are trying to destroy us, seeking the means to turn Americans against each other. It is this author's opinion that they are now using the anonymous power of the Internet, rather than nuclear weapons, to attack our society. Consider how North Korean hackers shut down Sony just a few years ago and how Russia-based hackers forced Colonial Pipeline and the meat processing industry to hand over tens of millions of dollars in ransom.
Despite these enormous threats, we should not despair. Instead we need to gather strength from our past -- such as the lessons offered to us in Longfellow's poem -- and to take to heart the words that ring clear, true, and inspiring.
The Building of the Ship" 1849, Abridged Version
"Build me straight, O worthy Master!
Stanch and strong, a goodly vessel,
That shall laugh at all disaster,
And with wave and whirlwind wrestle!"
Thou, too, sail on, O Ship of State!
Sail on, O Union, strong and great!
Humanity with all its fears,
With all the hopes of future years,
Is hanging breathless on thy fate!
We know what Master laid thy keel,
What Workmen wrought thy ribs of steel,
Who made each mast, and sail, and rope,
What anvils rang, what hammers beat,
In what a forge and what a heat
Were shaped the anchors of thy hope!
In spite of rock and tempest's roar,
In spite of false lights on the shore,
Sail on, nor fear to breast the sea!
Our hearts, our hopes, are all with thee,
Our hearts, our hopes, our prayers, our tears,
Our faith triumphant o'er our fears,
Are all with thee, — are all with thee!
What our nation needs now is the wisdom to hear these inspiring words and reclaim a democracy that remains the hope of the free world.