Amid myriad mixed signals about facemasks, incessant sensationalized reporting, and even outright fearmongering, Americans are repeatedly instructed to be afraid. The Chinese corona virus is certainly dangerous, but we are being told this pandemic changes everything. Our way of life is supposedly forever altered. Americans are scolded that going to work or any mundane daily activity could be deadly and surely selfish. Large gatherings may be forever unsafe and prohibited. Our governments are hesitant to relinquish power, slow to reopen our economies, and unsure if we can ever return to any sense of normalcy. If Americans should be afraid, we should review when Americans have been afraid and reflect on their fears on this Memorial Day weekend in uncertain times.
The first Americans were afraid before they ever even landed on this expansive continent of wilderness. 46 Pilgrims fled England 16 September 1620 to escape religious persecution. They made a daunting trans-Atlantic voyage aboard an 80’ Mayflower arriving 9 November 1620 at the onset of winter with meager supplies. They courageously came to the new world not knowing what was there and who if anyone would greet them. They endured all manner of deprivations from starvation to insecurity which would naturally scare anyone, but they were more afraid of not being able to worship God as they chose. They faced unknown adversity to secure their God given rights to worship freely.
About a century and a half later, Americans were again afraid of living without liberty. An ocean away, the Americans colonies flourished, but they were ruled by an increasingly oppressive faraway empire without representation. They were burdened by edicts and taxes with no regard for their impact on the colonies much less any concern about American protests. The thirteen scattered colonies had minimal military capabilities and resources. The Continental Navy had about 30 mostly converted vessels and the Royal Navy had about 200 of the best warships on the seas. The British Army had about 50,000 of the best trained soldiers in the world while the Continental Army struggled to field about 12,000 rag tag troops. However, our founding fathers were more afraid of tyranny than securing their independence from a global super power.
Americans have always been fiercely independent. They want to work to provide for their families and raise their children to be free. They flocked by the millions to a vast continent without infrastructure and often no government authorities. With nothing but the sweat of their brow and the indomitable spirit to be free, pioneers conquered the wilderness and settled this land. There was much to fear in the unknown frontier, but Americans were more afraid of not pursing the American dream.
Throughout our history, Americans have heeded the call to arms. They rose up to win their independence and rallied to stop slavery and save the union. Many times despots around the globe threatened peace and stability and average Americans would beat back the darkness. They often went to remote lands with odd names to fight ruthless enemies, but they were more afraid of tyranny.
Americans have faced famine, pestilence, and wars, but we have not just survived, we have thrived. Life has never been easy and it never will be especially if you want to retain liberty. John Wayne is credited with saying “Courage is being scared to death but saddling up anyway.” Sure the pandemic can be scary, but living in fear is worse. Americans are ready to saddle up and many already are. We will beat this pandemic and the next one; and Americans will resurrect our economy. We can be safe and prosper and maintain our freedom. Americans have been doing it for centuries. As we remember our heroes under each white headstone, let their courage and determination inspire you to saddle up.
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9
Pete Riehm is the host of Common Sense Radio heard 8pm every Thursday on FMTalk106.5 or streaming at fmtalk1065.com. Email him at [email protected] or on Twitter @PeteRiehm or visit http://peteriehm.com.