Between Memorial Day and July 4th, we’ll be doing a series of posts on Authentic Patriotism, featuring vignettes from Stephen P. Kiernan’s book Authentic Patriotism as well as local stories of authentic patriotism (you can submit them HERE). Stephen will be our featured speaker at the June 21 Dinner at the Square (find details HERE).
Kiernan writes of the personal sacrifices made by patriots in the founding generation for their love of country. Here Kiernan tells Jefferson’s story:
“Picture Thomas Jefferson in his Monticello home in 1782, mourning the death of his beloved young wife. He has left public life completely, calling his sorrow “a stupor of mind.” He destroys all of their letters. He climbs on his horse each ay for rambling rides, headlong, running from his grief. He shuts himself up in his library for hours of solitude. On her deathbed Martha begged him not to marry again, and the widower keeps that promise all his days. And yet, eventually Jefferson rouses himself, and in twenty years he is president. He buys the Louisiana territories from the French for a pittance, doubling the size of the new nation and thereby establishing the independent, pioneer spirit that characterizes Americans to this day…”
“…The men and women of that era risked their lives for these ideals because it was necessary. Today the imperatives are less elemental to the nation’s existence. But that does not mean that Americans can afford to risk nothing, contribute nothing. A democracy without an engaged populace is like a monarchy without a king.”