We all have them – memories, that is. Though some may fade with the passing of time, many of our precious recollections of the past stay with us for a lifetime. This truth was emphasized to me several years ago when, on a local radio station, I listened to what I believe to be one of the most beautiful and haunting secular songs I’ve ever heard. It brought tears to my eyes then, not so much for any memories it stirred in me, sad to say, but for the depth of emotion projected by the man who was singing it. His name is John McDermott, and he was the founder of the famous singing group known as “The Irish Tenors.” I urge you to enter “John McDermott YouTube” on your search engine and click on the video of his performance of “The Old Man” (with lyrics), a beautiful song he sang in memory of his father. You will see, and hear, a truly special performance, I assure you. It still brings tears to my eyes whenever I watch it.
John was born in Scotland, but his family moved to Canada when he was ten, and he’s a citizen of that country. The words and music were written by Phil Coulter, and I trust it will affect you as it did me:
The tears have all been shed now, we ’ve said our last goodbyes.
His soul ’s been blessed, he’s laid to rest, and it’s now I feel alone.
He was more than just a father, a teacher, my best friend.
He can still be heard in the tunes we shared, when we play them on our own.
I never will forget him, for me made me what I am;
Though he may be gone memory lingers on—
and I miss him, the old man.
As a boy he’d take me walking by mountain, field, and stream.
And he showed me things not known to kings, and secret between him and me:
Like the colors of the pheasant as he rises in the dawn, and how to Fish and make a wish beside the holly tree.
I thought he’d live forever, he seemed so big and strong. Bat the minutes fly and the years roll by for a father and a son. And suddenly it happened—there was so much left unsaid! No second chance to tell him thanks for everything he’s done.
As John sings the chorus for the last time, in his delightful Scots/Irish brogue, a tear begins to fall down his cheek, his powerful memories of his father almost overwhelming him. How I envied him at that moment. How I wished that I could relish those same wonderful memories of my own father, gone now for 52 years. Alas, I can’t, but hopefully you can.
Memories of our lost loved ones are not the only things stored in that vast computer located within our skulls. Some are the memories of a common humane culture shared by all Americans. I know that not all of us claim the same “heritage memories” sent to us by our ancestors. Our history as Americans hasn’t always been totally noble, nor has it always been honoring to our Creator who gave us our liberty. Some in our past were torn from other lands against their wills; some were impelled to leave other places to save their lives, or to improve their economic condition. Some left lands where they were persecuted for daring to worship their Creator differently than in the manner decreed by the State. Some who had always lived on this continent had their ancestral lands taken from them by subterfuge or force. But all of these—our ancestors—contributed their lives, their genetic future, their hopes and dreams, for the possibility that either they themselves, or their posterity, could live in a land where their God-given rights would be protected and honored.
For much of our history it seemed that the nation that had been forged by the sacrificial examples of all our ancestors would remain relatively unchanging and unchallenged into perpetuity. The 56 courageous and brave men who signed our Declaration of Independence in 1776, realizing that they were declaring themselves as “traitors” to the English King, did so in the full confidence that whatever sacrifices they had to make because of their stand for liberty would be recognized, honored, and always remembered by their countrymen and their descendants. Sadly, many Americans today not only don’t know who these men were, but many of us don’t even know what year they signed their immortal Declaration, nor even what country it was from which they were declaring their independence. Even fewer of us know the depths of the sacrifices that they made to assure our eventual independence and our political and spiritual freedom.
We all should be ashamed that our “heritage memories” of their gallantry are fading from our national consciousness. We’ve all heard the truism that “freedom isn’t free.” I’d like to suggest that these 56 signers of our Declaration of Independence “coined” that slogan with their own blood, for the cost that most of them paid for that act of signing their names onto our parchment of liberty was more than many of us would be willing to pay, today.
Every July 4th, Americans celebrate the brave defiance that these 56 Founders exhibited before the might of “Mother England” and its vaunted military. We as Americans have these “heritage memories” locked away in our minds – indeed into our very souls. These are the memories, transmitted to us from our ancestors, of the times and events that are causing those who are alive today to question whether or not we might be losing that “vision of liberty” that our Founders hoped would endure far into their future, which is our present. The wisest of them realized that what they were bequeathing to us might be difficult to maintain. They never conceived that some of those for whom they sacrificed everything they had would purposely begin to destroy their noble experiment for human liberty, but such has been the case.
The further we Americans retreat from the dreams of our Founders of a true republican form of government, the closer we are moving to the tyranny of a Federal “Oligarchy,” wherein the authority and the rights originally possessed by our people and our states have been purposely usurped by the might of our federal “leviathan,” as the “dreams” of the enemies of liberty – the leftwing progressives among us – for an American Empire under their control, are slowly coming to fruition. The memories of the nobility of our Founders’ thoughts and goals for their countrymen have, in our time, been almost totally subordinated to the subversive plots of demagogues and ruthless connivers who care nothing for our past and think only of the “glory” of a future where they have the collective power of a gigantic bureaucracy to do their bidding, and the rest of us survive in meek subservience, too cowed to resist.
The “heritage memories” that Americans still retain to some degree are important for our survival as a free constitutional republic. The “leaders and thinkers” among us declare the importance of planning for the future, while all the while they encourage us to ignore, or forget, our past. They advise us to overlook the most important aspects of our history that teach us that those who ignore it are forever condemned to repeat the worst aspects of it. The American people forever yearn to be rescued by “false messiahs”, political or religious, while we ignore the swiftly eroding Constitutional “perspective” that has guided us since our beginning. These same Americans have almost forgotten, and many have never known, I fear, just where the special “glory” that was our country came from.
It’s time for Americans to dust off our venerable “heritage memories” and return to our 18th century roots. Our Founding Generation, for all of their real or imagined imperfections, mastered a form of “political technology” that served us well for much of our history. The study of our constitutional past will serve us well and will preserve our freedom!