I suspect that President Obama sees us as a country of children.  If life stinks enough, if our favorite things are kept out of reach, then, like children who have been restricted from the TV or teens cut off from our video games, we will pressure Congress into letting him have his way and push our debt to an insurmountable ceiling.

Thus the strategy to inconvenience people: Shut down federal parks. Barricade Americans from memorials and monuments (think wheel-chaired senior citizens who created the very history these memorials honor).  Kick people off of public lands even though they own a home or business there.  Infuriating.  Unconscionable.  Dire hardship for those many families without income (and some without homes).  Stupid.

But … WHY our national parks and monuments?

Unforgettable  Bryce
Unforgettable Bryce

Could it be that there is more at stake than triggering a mob of angry citizens who will chase down Congress?  Could it be that our leaders are afraid of Americans who are re-acquainted with the bedrock of freedoms and principles under the soil upon which they tread?

What is it that lurks behind those barricades? What happens when American’s remember?

What happens when we stand in the shadow of Lincoln’s towering statue and read:

“We the people are the rightful masters of both Congress and the courts, not to overthrow the Constitution but to overthrow the men who pervert the Constitution.”

Or how about this one?:

“America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.”

Might it be bad timing for those WWII veterans and their families who’ve been chased away from monuments, to somehow stumble upon Thomas Jefferson’s words?

“When the people fear the government, there is tyranny. When the government fears the people, there is liberty.”

That quote deserves an encore:

A wise and frugal Government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, which shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government, and this is necessary to close the circle of our felicities.

BUT WHY our national parks and monuments?

I have stood on the grounds of Mount Vernon in drenching rain, staring into history’s memories of the Potomac River.  I have listened as a canon thundered 21 salutes at a military service on a hillside at Arlington.  I observed as 60, 70, and 80-year-old men let tears fall without shame, kneeling in front of war memorials. I have brushed away my own tears watching teens at the Holocaust museum grow stunned and silent as they confronted mountains of empty, discarded shoes – shoes that once belonged to Hitler’s victims.

I have stood on the edge of The Grand Canyon, unable to stop drinking in the glorious color and vastness of God’s creation.  I have driven through the tunnel and mountain sides of Mount Zion National Park, unrestrained in praise at the brilliant beauty that unfolded with a wondrous, new design at every corner.

The Grand Canyon in splendor.
The Grand Canyon in splendor.

Mount Rainier, Staircase National Park, Mount Hood, Glacier National Park … I don’t have the words for the beauty, the riveting awe of each wonder.  I live with the longing to go back, to soak in the heritage of it all, to wonder about those who sojourned in these places generations before me … the longing to explore more of my country … the longing to honor the lives of Abigail Adams, Patrick Henry, Harriet Tubman, Sacajawea, Theodore Roosevelt, Ronald Reagan, and more … the longing to wander through the Smithsonian and marvel at the photographs, the inventions, the statues, the documents …

Again, is it bad timing for me or any American to stare into our past and confront our heritage … to ponder our immortality? Is there risk in being inspired to think beyond ourselves and thus, question the purpose for our lives, the contributions we can make to our world (other than mandated taxes, that is)? Are we in danger of thinking like our forefathers “that … Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed …”

Great moments remembered inspire great living going forward.

Could this be why President Obama is okay with letting the troops have TV back so they can watch football (which they should be able to do … go Seahawks!), but does it chill anyone else that he’s picking a sad, spiteful battle with our senior citizens and all those who understand the value of remembering what lies behind?

Mr. President, certainly you have more respect for ALL Americans than your current actions would suggest.

Mr. President, you have a beautiful opportunity to lead; to facilitate healing and unity in this land.

Mr. President, tear down those barricades!

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