Lindsey v. Mickey
This week saw two episodes that neatly capture the decline of our nation. U.S. skier Lindsey Vonn told a reporter that if she wins a medal in the upcoming Olympics set to start in February, she won’t visit the White House, as medal winners traditionally do. She said she hopes to represent “the people of the United States” in the Olympics, not “the president.”
I understand that when Olympians don the red, white and blue or visit the White House, they’re representing and honoring America, not the president. Still, this was a gratuitous shot at President Trump. We’ve seen numerous other athletes and championship teams refuse to attend White House ceremonies under President Trump. And many NFL players have clashed with Trump over their refusal to stand for the national anthem.
Vonn, who is in her early 30s, is a perfect representative of the Millennial Generation that seems to believe history started yesterday and has a hard time separating their personal views of the president with the love and respect they should feel for their country. Vonn is hardly alone among her contemporaries. As I recently wrote in a Thanksgiving op-ed for the Washington Examiner, Patriotism is on the wane with more than one-third of Millennials saying they are “not very” patriotic.
Meanwhile, Thursday, on the 76th anniversary of Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor, President Trump signed a proclamation honoring National Pearl Harbor Day. Trump welcomed to the White house six survivors of the attack.
One of Trump’s guests was Navy veteran Mickey Ganitch, who had football on his mind the morning of the attack. Ganitch had been assigned to the USS Pennsylvania at Pearl Harbor and was preparing to play the USS Arizona for the fleet championship that day.
He had his football uniform on and was about to leave for practice when “General Quarters” sounded throughout the ship. Instead of kneeling, Ganitch rushed to his battle station, the crow’s nest of the main mast of the ship. His ship got pummeled by Japanese torpedoes, and one bomb missed Granitch by a mere 45 feet.
During the White House ceremony, Ganitch broke out into an impromptu rendition of “Remember Pearl Harbor!” The song is a tribute to the service members who lost their lives during the attack. Their sacrifice, and that of millions of other members of the military, is what Vonn and other athletes should be focused on when they consider whether or not to visit the White House.
Recently Americans celebrated Thanksgiving, a day Abraham Lincoln proclaimed would be dedicated to giving thanks and “praise to our Father who dwells in the Heavens."
Gratitude doesn’t seem to come easily these days. Opinions polls show Americans are unhappy with our core institutions, our politicians, and the direction of our country.
We no longer even agree on what it means to be an American. Patriotism is on the wane as more than one-third of Millennials say they are "not very” patriotic. How sad.
Football used to be a welcome Thanksgiving Day ritual and a break from the stresses of everyday life. But now fans are forced to witness the spectacle of millionaire athletes demonstrating against national anthem, the flag, the police and the very meaning of America.
Are they grateful for anything this country has given them?
I know America isn’t perfect. Our Founders knew that. In fact, the preamble to the Constitution refers to the people and the government striving to form “a more perfect Union." But we do have much to be thankful for.
We are safer and more stable than most countries. Nobody starves from lack of resources in America, and fewer do worldwide than ever before, thanks in part to American charity and generosity. Many of our most prominent diseases are those of plenty, not of poverty.
If you are like most Americans, you are already in the hustle and bustle of the Christmas season, which, sadly, has become overly commercialized. Many of us are guilty of thinking about what we are going to get.
Instead, we should delight in our blessings, and we can do so by stopping and reflecting on them. Science suggests that simply by recalling all that we have to be thankful for we can feel more grateful and grow emotionally and physically healthier.
In the days and weeks ahead, instead of focusing on the presents we might get, I hope we can focus on the presence of God and the great gift He gave to us. That is something for which I am eternally grateful.