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Alexander's Column

Courage Is the Missing Millennial Link

Some millennials have summoned the courage to step out of their generation's jack-boot political dogma.

Mark Alexander · Jun. 12, 2019
“It should be your care, therefore, and mine, to elevate the minds of our children and exalt their courage; to accelerate and animate their industry and activity; to excite in them an habitual contempt of meanness, abhorrence of injustice and inhumanity, and an ambition to excel in every capacity, faculty, and virtue. If we suffer their minds to grovel and creep in infancy, they will grovel all their lives.” —John Adams (1756)

At last week’s 75th Anniversary D-Day observance, after President Donald Trump delivered his remarks, Susan Eisenhower, by virtue of the fact that she’s the granddaughter of Supreme Allied Commander Dwight D. Eisenhower, received some media attention. She offered some observations of her own about the young men who stormed the beaches of Normandy — young men who would earn the retrospective title of “The Greatest Generation.”

I was a bit distracted by her unscripted remarks near the American Cemetery because behind her was Barack Obama’s former secretary of state, John Kerry, who was mindlessly strolling over American graves.

Yes, Eisenhower, who claims to be a Republican, endorsed Obama and spoke on his behalf at the 2008 DNC convention. That doesn’t invalidate her remarks; it just means they are subject to varying degrees of circumspection. But to see Kerry walking across the sacred ground of American graves in France, given his traitorous record of providing aid and comfort to our enemy by meeting with the North Vietnamese in Paris when American negotiators were involved in peace talks — well, I hope you can understand why I was distracted.

What Susan Eisenhower said is this: “I think with respect to the courage that was shown here at Normandy, today we don’t have selflessness and self-sacrifice in our vocabulary. … There was a time when people were called upon to do things they didn’t necessarily want to do or couldn’t be spared to do. They reported for duty, they put their best selves in it and they discovered when they hit the beaches that they were more than they ever thought they could be.”

Indeed, some of their collegiate peers today would accuse them of “toxic masculinity.”

I think her assessment is correct in the sense that “selflessness and self-sacrifice” are no longer attributes widely shared among American young people, though they are almost universally shared at some meaningful level among young men and women serving our nation in uniform.

Though Eisenhower mentioned “courage,” she did so only in reference to that generation 75 years ago.

But I would offer that it is courage, first and foremost, that is missing from the foundational virtues and values of many young people today. It is courage that empowers and underpins selflessness and self-sacrifice.

Most millennials think they’re courageous advocates and defenders in their adoption of leftist political platforms and their advocacy for the formation of a socialist state. The disgraceful irony is that the genuinely courageous young people who began their rescue of the European continent at Normandy were charged with defeating Adolf Hitler’s National Socialist (NAZI) German Workers Party and its reign of terror.

Unfortunately, the vast majority of Americans under age 35 have never served our country or their community in any meaningful capacity, and the gift of Liberty is thus theirs only through inheritance. They didn’t earn it, which is why so many of them don’t understand its value.

Remarkably, some millennials have summoned the courage to step out of their generation’s jack-boot political dogma and are forming the foundation of the next generation of grassroots Patriots.

To help define what courage means in the context of history and to this day, I’ve gathered a few timeless quotes from the past:

Aristotle: “Courage is the first of human qualities because it is the quality which guarantees the others.”

Confucius: “Faced with what is right, to leave it undone shows a lack of courage.”

Plutarch: “Courage consists not in hazarding without fear; but being resolutely minded in a just cause.”

Horace: “It is courage, courage, courage, that raises the blood of life to crimson splendor. Live bravely and present a brave front to adversity.”

William Shakespeare: “Cowards die many times before their deaths; The valiant never taste of death but once.”

G.K. Chesterton: “Courage is almost a contradiction in terms. It means a strong desire to live taking the form of readiness to die. … The paradox of courage is that a man must be a little careless of his life even in order to keep it.”

Mark Twain: “Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear.”

C.S. Lewis: “Courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point.”

Charles Lindbergh: “Is he alone who has courage on his right hand and faith on his left hand?”

Louis D. Brandeis: “Those who won our independence believed liberty to be the secret of happiness and courage to be the secret of liberty.”

Chester W. Nimitz: “God grant me the courage not to give up what I think is right even though I think it is hopeless.”

Eddie Rickenbacker: “Courage is doing what you’re afraid to do. There can be no courage unless you’re scared.”

Winston Churchill: “Courage is rightly esteemed the first of human qualities, because, as has been said, ‘it is the quality which guarantees all others.’”

Harry Truman: “America was not built on fear. America was built on courage, on imagination and an unbeatable determination to do the job at hand.”

John Wayne: “Courage is being scared to death and saddling up anyway.”

Billy Graham: “Courage is contagious. When a brave man takes a stand, the spines of others are often stiffened.”

Ronald Reagan: “There are no easy answers, but there are simple answers. We must have the courage to do what we know is morally right.”

And the Bible verse that we’ve placed on the Shields of Strength that are now proudly worn by millions of American military personnel and their families: “I will be strong and courageous. I will not be terrified or discouraged, for the Lord my God is with me wherever I go.” (Joshua 1:9)

For a better understanding of courage and the other character traits essential to the “selflessness and self-sacrifice” of which Susan Eisenhower spoke, invite millennials to read about the National Medal of Honor Heritage Center and those who’ve earned our nation’s highest award for valor demonstrating such character.

Semper Vigilans Fortis Paratus et Fidelis
Pro Deo et Libertate — 1776

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