Dwight Eisenhower farewell

On this day in 1961, President Dwight D. Eisenhower, looking forward to becoming a private citizen, gives his Farewell Address to the nation.

So, here are a couple excerpts from the opening and closing of his address:

“Three days from now, after a half century of service of our country, I shall lay down the responsibilities of office as, in traditional and solemn ceremony, the authority of the Presidency is vested in my successor.

Like every other citizen, I wish the new President, and all who will labor with him, Godspeed. I pray that the coming years will be blessed with peace and prosperity for all.

You and I – my fellow citizens – need to be strong in our faith that all nations, under God, will (one day) reach the goal of peace with justice. May we be ever unswerving in devotion to principle, confident but humble with power, diligent in pursuit of the Nations’ great goals.

America’s Aspiration

To all the peoples of the world, I once more give expression to America’s prayerful and continuing aspiration:

We pray that peoples of all faiths, all races, all nations, may have their great human needs satisfied; that those now denied opportunity shall come to enjoy it to the full; that all who yearn for freedom may experience its spiritual blessings; that those who have freedom will understand, also, its heavy responsibilities; that all who are insensitive to the needs of others will learn charity; that the scourges of poverty, disease and ignorance will be made to disappear from the earth, and that, in the goodness of time, all peoples will come to live together in a peace guaranteed by the binding force of mutual respect and love.”

A timeless aspiration for all Americans.

Dwight D. Eisenhower farewell

John F. Kennedy Except the Lord

John F. Kennedy Except the Lord
On this day in 1963, President John Fitzgerald Kennedy is assassinated as he rode in a motorcade through Dallas, Texas. He was the fourth U.S. president to be assassinated.

Words from the speeches he was unable to deliver are helpful yet today.

“Ancient vision” and “Our hopes for the future”

First, an excerpt of remarks he was to give later that day to the Texas Democratic State Committee in Austin:

“So let us not be petty when our cause is so great. Let us not quarrel amongst ourselves when our Nation’s future is at stake. Let us stand together with renewed confidence in our cause–united in our heritage of the past and our hopes for the future–and determined that this land we love shall lead all mankind into new frontiers of peace and abundance.”

President Kennedy was going to the Trade Mart to speak to the Dallas Citizens Council when he was assassinated. The following is a portion of that undelivered speech:

“We, in this country, in this generation, are — by destiny rather than by choice — the watchmen on the walls of world freedom. We ask, therefore, that we may be worthy of our power and responsibility, that we may exercise our strength with wisdom and restraint, and that we may achieve in our time and for all time the ancient vision of “peace on earth, good will toward men.” That must always be our goal, and the righteousness of our cause must always underlie our strength. For as was written long ago: “except the Lord keep the city, the watchmen waketh but in vain.”

Finally, the next day, President Lyndon B. Johnson “appoint[ed] November 25, the day of the funeral service of President Kennedy, to be a national day of mourning…” He said, “I earnestly recommend the people to assemble on that day in their respective places of divine worship, there to bow down in submission to the will of Almighty God, and to pay their homage of love and reverence to the memory of a great and good man.”

 

John F. Kennedy Eternal Flame

Theodore Roosevelt

On this day in 1858, Theodore Roosevelt (who did not like to be called “Teddy”) the 26th President of the United States, is born in New York City.

He was the leader of the Rough Riders, and the Governor of New York. At 43, he became the youngest president ever when President William McKinley was assassinated.

Roosevelt busted up monopolies, and set aside land for America’s first national parks and monuments. In another American first, he was the first American to win a Nobel Prize in any category.

A “Big Stick” and a Bible

“Speak softly and carry a big stick,” a West African proverb he used, characterized his approach to foreign policy.

The following quote characterized his approach to the Bible:

“Every thinking man, when he thinks, realizes… that the teachings of the Bible are so interwoven and entwined with our whole civic and social life that it would be literally… impossible for us to figure to ourselves what that life would be if these teachings were removed. We would lose almost all the standards by which we now judge both public and private morals[.]”

Larger-than-life, here’s a photo that showcases his gregarious nature. You may also recognize him from Mount Rushmore.

Theodore Roosevelt
John F. Kennedy United Nations

On this day in 1963, President John F. Kennedy addresses the UN General Assembly with his proposal for a joint mission to the moon.

His suggestion for “new cooperation” surprised Soviets and Americans alike. Though, as he said,
“[s]pace offers no problems of sovereignty.”

Kennedy went on:
“The contest will continue–the contest between those who see a monolithic world and those who believe in diversity–but it should be a contest in leadership and responsibility instead of destruction, a contest in achievement instead of intimidation. Speaking for the United States of America, I welcome such a contest. For we believe that truth is stronger than error–and that freedom is more enduring than coercion. And in the contest for a better life, all the world can be a winner.

I know that some of you have experienced discrimination in this country. But I ask you to believe me when I tell you that this is not the wish of most Americans–that we share your regret and resentment — and that we intend to end such practices for all time to come, not only for our visitors, but for our own citizens as well.

Too often a project is undertaken in the excitement of a crisis and then it begins to lose its appeal as the problems drag on and the bills pile up. But we must have the steadfastness to see every enterprise through.

Let us complete what we have started. For “No man who puts his hand to the plow and looks back,” as the Scriptures tell us, “No man who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the Kingdom of God.”

Additionally, let us, as united Americans, renew our cooperation, on the strength of truth. Then, we can continue the work to fulfill the lofty vision Our Founders had for Our Republic.

John F. Kennedy United Nations

US Capitol Cornerstone Ceremony 1793

On this day in 1793, George Washington lays the cornerstone of the Capitol building. An engraved silver plate commemorates the occasion with this inscription:

“This South East corner Stone, of the Capitol of the United States of America in the City of Washington, was laid on the 18th day of September 1793, in the thirteenth year of American Independence, in the first year of the second term of the Presidency of George Washington, whose virtues in the civil administration of his country have been as conspicuous and beneficial, as his Military valor and prudence have been useful in establishing her liberties, and in the year of Masonry 5793, by the Grand Lodge of Maryland, several Lodges under its jurisdiction, and Lodge No. 22, from Alexandria, Virginia.”

Foundational

First, “the year of Masonry 5793” is equivalent to the Gregorian year plus 4,000. The ceremonial Masonic dating system of A.L., Anno Lucis, Latin for ‘year of light,’ like Anno Mundi, coincides with the estimated year of Creation (around 4,000 B.C). Here’s the biblical account in Genesis 1:3: “And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.”

Taking much longer than ‘seven days,’ the 540-room, domed Capitol building took nearly a century to complete.

Also, a small stone from a field next to the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, which is believed to mark the birthplace of Jesus of Nazareth, set into a slab of American granite comprise the ceremonial foundation stone of the National Cathedral.

Capitol Cornerstone Ceremony 1793, Washington

Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev

On this day in 1984, President Ronald Reagan, long known for his sense of humor, makes a controversial joke while doing a sound check before his weekly Saturday radio address:

“My fellow Americans, I am pleased to tell you today that I’ve signed legislation that will outlaw Russia forever. We begin bombing in five minutes.”

Reagan was riffing on the actual opening line of his speech, regarding religious freedom:

“I’m pleased to tell you that today I signed legislation that will allow student religious groups to begin enjoying a right they’ve too long been denied — the freedom to meet in public high schools during nonschool hours, just as other student groups are allowed to do. This has been given the shorthand label “equal-access legislation.”

In fact, it was just a couple weeks later on August 23rd that Reagan would deliver his famous line:
“If we ever forget that we’re one nation under God, then we will be a nation gone under.” 

Sure, the bombing joke may have been embarrassing, and in poor taste. It even caused at temporary dip in the President’s approval rating. Even so, he went on to win a second term.

Furthermore, even though Reagan had referred to Russia as the “evil empire,” he established a close relationship with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev starting in 1985. His sense of humor may have had something to do with that. They went on to sign the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty in 1987, the Cold War thawed, and the Berlin Wall eventually was torn down.

Our Lost Founding suggests that we, as “fellow Americans” lighten up. Most importantly, let’s heed President Reagan’s warning to not “forget that we’re one nation under God.”

Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev

Martin Van Buren White House portrait

On this day in 1862, Martin Van Buren (1782-1862), who served as the nation’s eighth president between 1837 and 1841, slips into a coma.

Unlike the seven men who preceded him in the White House, Van Buren was the first president to be born a citizen of the United States. That is, he was not a British subject.

The diminutive Van Buren was blessed with sound political acumen, but despised for his constant political maneuvering. So, standing at just 5’6″, friends and foes alike regarded him as “the Little Magician.”

Van Buren, who developed asthma in 1860, had a history of heavy drinking. Later in life, he developed cardiac problems.

His history of drinking, plus his increasing obesity, led to a battle with gout.

Then, he developed asthma, his circulatory system began to fail, causing the coma. Three days later, he passed away. Some historians claim sleep apnea, caused by disruptive snoring, may have contributed to his declining health and eventual death.

“Bless Our Beloved Country”

Inaugural Address “Fellow Citizens”
March 4, 1837


“…for myself, conscious of but one desire, faithfully to serve my country, I throw myself without fear on its justice and its kindness. Beyond that I only look to the gracious protection of the Divine Being whose strengthening support I humbly solicit, and whom I fervently pray to look down upon us all. May it be among the dispensations of His providence to bless our beloved country with honors and with length of days. May her ways be ways of pleasantness and all her paths be peace!”

Martin Van Buren White House portrait

 

Franklin Roosevelt

Unprecedented

On this day in 1940, Franklin Delano Roosevelt is nominated for an unprecedented third term as president. He was on his way to a record four terms.

Previously, it was customary that no U.S. president serve more than two terms. In 1796, the first president, George Washington, declined to run for a third term.

It was not until 1951 that the 22nd Amendment was ratified. It states: “No person shall be elected to the office of the President more than twice.”

Thus, Roosevelt is the only U.S President to serve more than two terms.

“Sacred fire”

Interestingly, Roosevelt quoted Washington as he closed his third inaugural address in January, 1941:

“The destiny of America was proclaimed in words of prophecy spoken by our first President in his first inaugural in 1789—words almost directed, it would seem, to this year of 1941: “The preservation of the sacred fire of liberty and the destiny of the republican model of government are justly considered … deeply,… finally, staked on the experiment intrusted to the hands of the American people.” 

If we lose that sacred fire—if we let it be smothered with doubt and fear—then we shall reject the destiny which Washington strove so valiantly and so triumphantly to establish. The preservation of the spirit and faith of the Nation does, and will, furnish the highest justification for every sacrifice that we may make in the cause of national defense. 
In the face of great perils never before encountered, our strong purpose is to protect and to perpetuate the integrity of democracy. 
For this we muster the spirit of America, and the faith of America. 
We do not retreat. We are not content to stand still. As Americans, we go forward, in the service of our country, by the will of God.”

 

Franklin Roosevelt
It was another quote from George Washington’s first inaugural address that inspired one of Our shirts, available here:

 

US Capitol Cornerstone Ceremony 1793

On this day in 1790, Congress declares a site on the Potomac River to be the nation’s new permanent capital. We know it as Washington, D.C. Originally, George Washington selected the site.

Then, in 1793, George Washington lays the cornerstone of the Capitol building. An engraved silver plate commemorates the occasion with this inscription:

“This South East corner Stone, of the Capitol of the United States of America in the City of Washington, was laid on the 18th day of September 1793, in the thirteenth year of American Independence, in the first year of the second term of the Presidency of George Washington, whose virtues in the civil administration of his country have been as conspicuous and beneficial, as his Military valor and prudence have been useful in establishing her liberties, and in the year of Masonry 5793, by the Grand Lodge of Maryland, several Lodges under its jurisdiction, and Lodge No. 22, from Alexandria, Virginia.”

Foundational

“The year of Masonry 5793” is equivalent to the Gregorian year plus 4,000 because the ceremonial Masonic dating system of A.L., Anno Lucis, Latin for ‘year of light,’ like Anno Mundi, coincides with the estimated year of creation (around 4,000 B.C). Of course, the biblical account in Genesis 1:3 states: “And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.”

Also, the ceremonial foundation stone of the National Cathedral consists of a small stone from a field next to the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem set into a slab of American granite. That church that is believed to mark the birthplace of Jesus of Nazareth.

Capitol Cornerstone Ceremony 1793, Washington

 

Jimmy Carter Crisis of Confidence

On this day in 1979, President Jimmy Carter addresses the nation on live television regarding the energy crisis and accompanying recession in his “Crisis of Confidence” speech.

Jimmy Carter Crisis of Confidence

Here are a few excerpts, that when read without their historical context, seem to speak to us today:

“It is a crisis that strikes at the very heart and soul and spirit of our national will. We can see this crisis in the growing doubt about the meaning of our own lives and in the loss of a unity of purpose for our Nation.
The erosion of our confidence in the future is threatening to destroy the social and the political fabric of America.”
“We’ve always had a faith that the days of our children would be better than our own.”

“In a nation that was proud of hard work, strong families, close-knit communities, and our faith in God, too many of us now tend to worship self-indulgence and consumption. Human identity is no longer defined by what one does, but by what one owns. But we’ve discovered that owning things and consuming things does not satisfy our longing for meaning. We’ve learned that piling up material goods cannot fill the emptiness of lives which have no confidence or purpose.”

“One of the visitors to Camp David last week put it this way: “We’ve got to stop crying and start sweating, stop talking and start walking, stop cursing and start praying. The strength we need will not come from the White House, but from every house in America.”

He closed with these words:

“I will do my best, but I will not do it alone. Let your voice be heard. Whenever you have a chance, say something good about our country. With God’s help and for the sake of our Nation, it is time for us to join hands in America. Let us commit ourselves together to a rebirth of the American spirit. Working together with our common faith we cannot fail.”

Official Presidential Portrait of Jimmy Carter

 

Ronald Reagan at Moscow State University

On this day in 1988, Ronald Reagan ended his first trip to Moscow. The trip marked his fourth summit meeting with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. While there, Regan spoke to an audience of students and faculty at Moscow State University, and mad this statement:

Freedom, it has been said, makes people selfish and materialistic, but Americans are one of the most religious peoples on Earth. Because they know that liberty, just as life itself, is not earned but a gift from God, they seek to share that gift with the world. “Reason and experience,” said George Washington in his Farewell Address, “both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle. And it is substantially true, that virtue or morality is a necessary spring of popular government.” Democracy is less a system of government than it is a system to keep government limited, unintrusive; a system of constraints on power to keep politics and government secondary to the important things in life, the true sources of value found only in family and faith.

Lenin lens

He concluded his remarks with this: “da blagoslovit vas gospod — God bless you.” All of the above is made much more powerful and profound, given the setting in which Reagan spoke, as seen below.

Ronald Reagan at Moscow State University