We Must All Be Sentinels, Lest We Lose What’s Left Of Freedom


Living history is more treacherous than merely witnessing it.”

Flag and Eagle

As a somewhat impudent young man when I was in school, I didn’t really apply myself to history class. After all, history was about things that happened in the past, and I was contemptuously obsessed with “now” and what mysteries lay ahead.  But when a “D” on my report card in history caught my parents’ eyes, they knew it was time to make sure I appreciated the significance of understanding history and, more importantly, our place in it.

My mother’s contribution was the short but time-tested phrase, “Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” I’ll get back to that in a moment. But my father chose to deliver his message in his own words, and those are the ones that ultimately haunt me to this day. He said, “We must all be sentinels to history, or else this fragile freedom we enjoy will be snatched away from us… and we won’t see it coming until it’s too late.”

I had the privilege of growing up in a home where my father often spoke with the wisdom and eloquence of Ronald Reagan. Sadly, until I left home, I didn’t realize just what an embarrassment of riches this was to a young man in his formative years.

But as I watched in awe the video documenting the fall of the Berlin Wall that Stoutcat posted yesterday, it struck me how fortunate we Americans have been, to witness so much of history’s drama unfold before our very eyes… from a safe distance.  A perfect example is the Berlin Wall. I was able to witness its birth in 1961 and its demise in 1989.

Of course, the downside of being history’s witness at arm’s length is that one doesn’t really understand the pain and sacrifice that fills the history. After a while, it’s easy to fall into the trap of assuming what we have in this country is permanent and unalterable. The truth is far from it. And we are now living through times that may well become our shame: allowing freedom to be snatched from our grasp… from within.

We’ve become a nation where perhaps civilization’s ultimate political achievement — freedom and democracy, fueled by a free-market economy — has become seen as an entitlement that is automatic, immutable, and self-maintaining. Left uncorrected, that assumption will soon be proven wrong: disastrously so.  

The perfect storm has hit us: A Democrat majority in both houses of Congress, at a time when a young, vibrant minority who is also a gifted speaker came along with promises of “Hope” and “Change.” Unfortunately, the “Change” he referred to meant “fundamentally changing the United States.” While millions of voters assumed he meant “Life as we know it, only better,” he was secretly (and not-so-secretly) speaking about changes to this country that might forever alter what made it the envy of the world, whether it was the unlimited opportunity for entrepreneurs, or the finest medical research and care available.

We assumed democracy would always be ours. But, metaphorically speaking, as we dozed off from the inactivity of witnessing history, confident that things would be as they were when we woke up, opportunists helped themselves to our way of life… and are now redefining it using their own blueprint for change.

Are we blind to a Congress where one party locks out the other while debating future legislation? Do we neither see nor comprehend that what the President and the Democrats in the House and Senate are doing in fact spits on us and the spirit of the Constitution of the United States?

These leaders took an oath to defend and protect the Constitution. Are their actions, therefore, not in violation of the spirit of their oath of office? Will we as a nation step up, before the Constitution is rendered impotent? 

Back to that cliche my mother used: “Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” It’s true; others have learned too late that civilization does not run for all eternity on autopilot. And now it is our turn.

As I wrote at the top of this rant:

Living history is more treacherous than merely witnessing it. “

Yes, but it’s the only way of ever hoping to control the outcome.

Gerry Ashley


13 Responses to We Must All Be Sentinels, Lest We Lose What’s Left Of Freedom

  1. Josie says:

    Excellent post, Gerry! Bravo for pointing out exactly what is happening in our country and so very well expressed. Your parents did a good job. Thanks.

  2. Gerry Ashley says:

    Thank you for your kind words, Josie. I only wish I had acknowledged my father’s wisdom more in his living years. He truly was a lot like Ronald Reagan. Being a product of WW II, he knew when to stand firm on an issue. Sadly, I’ve had to refer to my memory for many of the lessons he taught (and I missed the significance of) in my youth.

    Both my parents served in WW II and I’m glad they aren’t here to see all their hard work being undone by one overzealous, self-absorbed, arrogant person. They’d be even sadder to think he was elected by so many sleeping zombies who didn’t have the skills to read between the lines… who relied on being spoon-fed information and made their choice based on how attractive and suave a candidate was.

    We reap what we sow… let’s hope there’s time to turn it around, but even I, the eternal optimist am starting to have my doubts.

    Again, thanks for the comments.

  3. Tony Shelton says:

    Great post, Gerry! We carry a rather heavy burden being the offspring of the greatest generation that ever lived. Some say that people of equal stature would step forward should the need arise, but I have serious doubts about that. Ask a high school senior what 12,7,1941 and 9,11,2001 have in common. You’ll likely get a blank stare.

    You are hitting close to the mark when you say that our current President was elected by zombies who didn’t have the skill to read between the lines. In fact, fully half of the people who voted for him lack the skill to read – period! They were voting to get something for nothing. He was going to take care of their rent, their utilities, and their car payments! The idiots really believed that!

    We live in a country where 48% of the population pay NO income tax. That means they have no stake in the game and should not be allowed to vote! The founding fathers withheld the vote from all except male land-owners. Women have justly gained the vote, but the founders were correct in their understanding that a permanent underclass with the vote would give power to the group that would give them the largest cut of the treasury. That underclass, along with the “enlightened” liberal idiots is the electoral base of the Democrat party. Until we find a way to remove the influence of those who only take and never pay into the system, we are on a slippery slope indeed.

    • Gerry Ashley says:

      Excellent points, Tony. The biggest point is that those who contribute nothing should have no say in the direction the country goes because they have not made an investment. When you allow them to vote, eventually it leads to the pandering of Candidates, “Vote for me and you can continue to sit on your fat ass!” is essentially the message Obama gives when he tells Joe the Plumber “I think it’s a good thing to spread the wealth around.”

      He’s spent the first 10 months of his On-the-job training as POTUS telling all of us who DO contribute to the betterment of this country what he’s going to do TO US. I’ve not heard ONE WORD from him in regards to telling those families who have mastered sucking off the welfare tit for generations that it’s time THEY started taking on some responsibiity as to how they participate in the process.

      Once again, I resort to quoting from a song by the Doobie Brothers: “I ain’t blind and I don’t like what I think I see.”

      Neither do the growing ranks of disgruntled Americans. I’ve never seen ANY President so totally disconnected from reality. Know this: It’s not because he’s dumb. He doesn’t care WHAT we think of him as long as he gets his socialist agenda passed.
      Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of their country… or forever hold their tongues.

    • Gerry Ashley says:

      Thank you, Doug. See my replies to Rosie and Tony. It sums up my thoughts pretty well. Even the optimist has his limits.

  4. TaxachusettsGirl says:

    It saddens me to think that so many people in our country have never been taught what hard work reaps.

    I fully appreciate what my parents taught me. I learned at a very young age how to work to get what I wanted. If I wanted an allowance, I had to do chores. If I left my bike outside and it got stolen, I had to use my saved allowance in order to purchase another, and I was only 7. I learned to save for what I wanted in life (just bought a house) and not to take anything in life for granted (watched my father get laid off twice and scrape to get by)…

    I sit back and watch children, teenagers, and people in their twenties and am just in awe at the enormous sense of entitlement. I’m lucky. I just barely made it because it seems to begin with people only a year or two younger than me.

    It’s awful when a majority of our graduating seniors can’t pass a citizenship test. We are destined to repeat history because they’ve not been taught the LESSONS of our history. We should not have to avoid mentioning the reasons behind each war because we are fearful of offending someone or some group. We should not have to replace words like “terrorism” with phrases like “man-caused disasters” to avert isolating a group of people.

    I loathe the day when we stop teaching history in our schools and replace it with some PC class, like “How To Be Friends 101” or “World Peace”.

    Thank you for your post, and for allowing someone like me to rant as well.

    • Gerry Ashley says:

      Well put, Taxgirl… Thank you for helping to spread the word by sharing your experiences with us as well. Please feel free to send a link to your friends. The goal is to get the word out to as many peope as possible while there’s still time.

      Thanks again, Taxgirl… I’m originally from Massachusetts (and I can actually produce a birth certificate as proof!) so I know what you’re going through.

  5. Steve says:

    Thomas Jefferson said,”Democracy is nothing more than mob rule, where fifty-one percent of the people may take away the rights of the other forty-nine.” That is why our country was founded, not as a democracy but as a democratic republic.
    We are rapidly approaching that tipping point if we have not already done so.
    The ’08 election was indeed a “perfect storm”. The combination of an unrest with the wars, the impending financial meltdown, and a democrat campaign strategy that not only turned out a huge number of first-time, ill informed voters but also, to a large degree, allowed them to chose their republican opponent, resulted in what the democrats now consider a mandate to advance their socialist agenda. Wishy-washy moderates, who were enamored with the idea of being a part of making history, chose to ignore who Barack Obama really is.
    My hope is that the mid-term elections, which historically tend to attract an electorate that votes with regularity (Read seniors) will stem the tide. My fear is that the fervor that right-minded people have today will not be sustained until 2012.

    • Gerry Ashley says:

      “That is why our country was founded, not as a democracy but as a democratic republic.”

      An extraordinary point and great observation, Steve. But how many people in this country today do you think can make that distinction or worse, care? This is all part and parcel to what I refer to as the burning need to get back to self-accountability. We need to get back to these basics before we can make the same demand of Congress and expect them to take us seriously.

      Again, thanks for that important observation.


  6. […] is said that those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it. Perhaps President Obeisance will eventually figure out that the American President does not bow […]

  7. […] NOTE: This post was originally written as a response to a post by Gerry titled “We Must all be Sentinals…” at GrandRants. […]

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