I believe that we can agree that we are living in a time when things are not entirely harmonious. Our forefathers also lived through times when things were not entirely peaceful, either.
One of my favorite books is Encyclopedia of Quotations, which highlights "Profound quotes from Founding Fathers, Presidents, Statesmen, Scientists, Constitutions and Court Decisions." It includes names of Americans and those of other nations. I hope you will be interested in seeing what some of our forefathers had to say during their times. By the way, this book has 845 pages.
John Quincy Adams, in the early l800's said, "Posterity -- you will never know how much it has cost my generation to preserve your freedom. I hope you will make good use of it."
Edmund Burke, an outstanding orator and author in Great Britain, said this in 1790: "People will not look forward to posterity who never look backward to their ancestors." On Jan. 9, 1795, he said, "All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing".
Alexis de Tocqueville, a famous French historian, after visiting America, said "The Americans combine the notions of Christianity and of liberty so intimately in their minds, that it is impossible to make them conceive the one without the other." He also said, "America is great because America is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, America will cease to be great."
Dwight E. Eisenhower said this on Jan. 21, 1957: "The spirit of man is more important than mere physical strength, and the spiritual fiber of a nation than its wealth."
Benjamin Franklin in his "Maxims and Morals" said, "Freedom is not a gift bestowed upon us by other men, but a gift that belongs to us by the laws of God and nature."
In March of 1778, he wrote, "A Bible and a newspaper in every house, a good school in every district -- all studied and appreciated as they merit -- are the principal support of virtue, morality, and civil liberty."
Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to Dr. Benjamin Rush on Sept. 23, 1800, said, "No power over the freedom of religion is delegated to the United States by the Constitution," In a letter to Abigail Adams, Sept. 11, 1804, Jefferson wrote, "Nothing in the Constitution has given them (the federal judges) a right to decide for the Executive, more than to the Executive to decide for them ... But the opinion which gives to the judges the right to decide what laws are constitutional and whatnot, not only for themselves in their own sphere of action, but for the legislature and executive also, in there spheres, would make the judiciary a despotic branch."
On Sept. 6, 1819, Jefferson wrote, "The Constitution is a mere thing of wax in the hand of the judiciary, which they may twist and shape into any form they please."
Abraham Lincoln, on Feb. 22, 1861, said, "The Declaration of Independence, which gave liberty not alone to the people of this country, but hope to all the world, for all future time. It was that which gave promise that in due time the weights would be lifted from the shoulders of all men, and that all should have an equal chance. This is the sentiment embodied in the Declaration of Independence ... I would rather be assassinated on this spot than surrender it."
Lincoln said the next day, "Freedom is the natural condition of the human race, in which the Almighty intended men to live. Those who fight the purpose of the Almighty will not succeed. They always have been, they always will be beaten."
Associate Justice of the Supreme Court William Rehnquist in 1985, said this: "It is impossible to build sound Constitutional doctrine upon a mistaken understanding of Constitutional history ... The establishment clause had been expressly freighted with Jefferson's misleading metaphor for nearly 40 years. There is simply no historical foundation for the proposition that the framers intended to build a wall of separation (between church and state) ... The recent court decisions are in no way based on either the language or the intent of the farmers."
Supreme Court Associate Justice Byron White on June 7, 1993, stated: "The government violates the First Amendment when it denies access to a speaker solely to suppress the point of view he espouses on an otherwise inculpable subject, ... (the) First Amendment forbids the government to regulate speech in ways that favor some viewpoints or ideas at the expense of others."
In 1911, President Woodrow Wilson stated; "The history of liberty is a history of limitations of government power, not the increase of it. When we resist, therefore, the concentration of power, we are resisting the power of death because concentration of power is what always precedes the destruction of human liberties."
On July 4, 1913, Wilson said: "Here is the nation God has builded by our hands. What shall we do with it?"
President George Washington, in his sixth annual address on Nov. 19, 1795, said this: "Let us unite, therefore, in imploring the Supreme Ruler of Nations, to spread his holy protection over these United States; to turn the machinations of the wicked to the confirming of our constitutions; to enable us at all times to root out our internal sedition, and put invasion to flight; to perpetuate to our country that prosperity, which his goodness has already conferred, and to verify the anticipation of this government being a safeguard to human rights."
Do these quotations speak to you today? I will finish with a poem by Josiah Gilbert Holland, which was Chaplain Peter Marshall's favorite.
God give us men
God give us men! A time like this demands strong minds, great hearts, true faith, and ready hands;
Men whom the lust of office does not kill;
Men whom the spoils of office cannot buy;
Men who possess opinions and a will;
Men who have honor; men who will not lie;
Men who can stand before demagogue and damn
his treacherous flatteries without winking;
Tall men, sun-crowned, who live above the fog
in public duty and in private thinking.
Arris Johnson, Hays, is a member of the Generations Advisory Group.