What makes us America?
If you were to name a single incident in American history that you feel was America’s finest hour, what would it be?
Would it be a moment of patriotic sacrifice?
“I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country.”
– Nathan Hale, [Sept. 22, 1776]
A moment of relentless determination?
“Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!”
– Admiral David Farragut [Aug. 5, 1864]
A moment of far-flung vision, an impossible dream?
“I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth.”
– JFK [May 25, 1961]
“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. I have a dream today!”
– MLK, Jr. [Aug. 28, 1963]
A moment of come-from-behind-to-win?
“…twenty-eight seconds. The crowd going insane. Kharlamov. Shooting it into the American end again. Morrow is back there. Now Johnson. Nineteen seconds. Johnson over to Ramsey. Bilyaletdinov gets checked by Ramsey. McClanahan is there. The puck is still loose. Eleven seconds. You’ve got ten seconds. The countdown going on right now. Morrow up to Silk. Five seconds left in the game. Do you believe in miracles? Yes!”
– Al Michaels, [Feb. 22, 1980]
Pennie and I were having lunch with our friend Rich Mann when he made a casual comment that sent such tremors through me that I wondered if Austin was having an earthquake. I never told Rich about the impact of his 4 little words on me that day, but he opened my eyes to an American greatness that had previously been hiding in my blind spot.
The moment that defines America for me – the moment I’ll be proud of forever – was December 12, 2000, when no one started shooting.
Remember The Month of the Hanging Chads? Al Gore won the popular vote of the nation on November 7, 2000, but George W. Bush won Florida’s 25 electoral votes by a storybook-thin margin to gain the Presidency, 271 votes to 266. But the state laws of Florida required a recount due to the microscopic margin of victory.
On November 26, Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris certified Florida’s voting results, declaring Bush to have won the state of Florida by 537 votes.
Many people were upset by this because Katherine Harris had also served as co-chair of Bush’s election campaign.
Gore’s team won a court hearing to challenge the Katherine Harris results. The American people were confused, nervous and anxious.
On December 1, fully 3 weeks after Election Day, the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments over whether the Florida Supreme Court had overstepped its authority in managing the recount. A week later, Florida’s high court upheld their previous position.
Bush argued. Gore argued. And the leadership of our nation hung in the balance.
Finally, on December 12, the U.S. Supreme Court stopped the Florida recount, effectively declaring Bush to be the winner. That Supreme Court vote was 5 to 4.
And no one in America started shooting.
How many nations on this earth can rest in the knowledge that there will be a peaceful transfer of power, even in moments of heated disagreement?
“No one started shooting.”
– Rich Mann, Shogun Sushi, Austin, TX [Feb. 2001]
God Bless America.
Roy H. Williams