Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Inspirational Afternoon

Yesterday Rich and I went to the Reagan Presidential Library. It's located several miles from our home and we hadn't been there in awhile. This past week the original Emancipation Proclamation was on display at the library and we were privileged to view it for a minute (literally) along with hundreds of others who were there. It was a great opportunity to see this document, reflect on Lincoln and his courage, and view the latest additions to the library.

We toured the presidential aircraft, Air Force One, used by six presidents, including Reagan, which, as of several years ago, is now permanently displayed at the library in this magnificent glass pavilion.

As we browsed the various exhibits depicting Reagan's life and presidency, I was again so moved by his sense of personal responsibility to his nation, whether he was in office or not. The sense of entitlement, so present in our culture today, was not a part of his thinking. Instead he viewed government as something to be kept in check.

In his first inaugural address on January 20, 1981, Reagan said,

"Government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem. From time to time we've been tempted to believe that society has become too complex to be managed by self-rule, that government by an elite group is superior to government for, by, and of the people. Well, if no one among us is capable of governing himself, then who among us has the capacity to govern someone else? All of us together, in and out of government, must bear the burden. The solutions we seek must be equitable, with no one group singled out to pay a higher price."

John F. Kennedy's inaugural speech contained the oft recited quote: "Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country."

When Americans sink into entitlement mentality, we put a ball and chain on ourselves individually and as a nation which pulls us down into a mire of restriction and regulation. Isn't this what our founding fathers were trying to escape?

On a personal level, I know there is dignity in work. There is a sense of contribution in being able to accomplish something with quality and significance. I've experienced that and want to cultivate that concept in others.

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Photo: Sheryl Bullock

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