It's really hard to describe how I feel right now. I'm not nearly as angry as I am disturbed, sickened, and saddened for these children. I really just want for this story to not be true. But it is.
I visited the Penn State campus a couple of months ago, and I remember thinking how awesome it was to finally see a Joe Paterno coached team in one of the most tradition rich stadiums in college football. I remember how nice the people were there in central Pennsylvania, how they shared their food and made us feel welcome. I remember how proud they were of their University, football program, and coach.
I can't imagine how they feel right now. The most important concern should, of course, be the victims of Jerry Sandusky's crimes. But in our condemnation and calls for justice, we should remember that the people in the stands, and the young men in uniform, didn't have anything to do with what happened. Cancelling the rest of the season would not be fair to them, and it wouldn't undo anything.
We love our heroes and we hate it when they let us down. We also love our myths. Does this mean that everything Penn State supposedly stood for is a myth? If we're talking about the administration and it's coach, then yes. But if we're talking about the fans and alumni, I don't think so. The Penn State family is bigger than Jerry Sandusky, and yes it is even bigger than Joe Paterno.
I wonder sometimes how many Americans understand why we celebrate "the fourth of July". According to at least one reputable poll, almost a quarter of Americans do not even know what country we declared independence from. I would guess that even less understand the significance of this particular day. Well let me tell you.
Today is not the day our nation won independence. Today is the day we declared it, when several brave men risked their lives to sign a document called the Declaration of Independence. You often hear commentators use the term "our founding documents". Well actually there are no founding documents. There is only one. The Declaration is the founding document.
And what about that Declaration? Some today, like Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan, want to diminish the importance of this document. That is either a huge mistake, or the purposeful act of a statist. You see, the Declaration of Independence should be considered equal to the Constitution. The ideals put forth in the Declaration, are why this nation exists and why it was formed the way it was. The Declaration is a radical document, because it recognized the fact that our rights come from God, not man, and that if a government violates those rights then the people have the right to disconnect from that government.
Slavery was obviously a black eye on America's founding. That can not be denied. However, it was the language of the Declaration that held this nation accountable to the values and ideals expressed in it. Sure there would have been an abolition movement without the Declaration, as there was in Europe. But in America, the abolition movement continually referred to the Declaration. The Declaration, in fact, laid the foundation for that movement. Lincoln referenced it quite often.
The Declaration is everything, and it should be taught as equal to the Constitution. The belief that all men are equal, and that our rights come from God, not governments, is central to understanding why this country exists. If you do not understand those things, then you can not understand this experiment called America.
No, July 4th is not the day we won independence. Independence Day, or the fourth of July, is the day we declared it, the day we told King George that our rights do not come from him, but from Him. Perhaps today's "rulers" have forgotten this. May they be reminded.