While I was exploring the University of Texas at Austin this July, I discovered a statue and a plaque that were quiet interesting to me. The plaque was at the base of a statue of a father and mother holding their young child. They are looking upward together. They are striving for a better world and teaching their child to do the same. The plaque reads,
“The family is the foundation upon which the world of business is built, and it is a vital force in the local, state and national economy.”
The statue is by Michigan native Charles Umlauf who worked at UT Austin as a sculpture instructor. His works can be seen across America from the Smithsonian and New York city to Central Texas. I believe that Mr. Umlauf catches the essence of the importance of the family in this simple statement and with his statue. The family is not simply an old tradition, it is the fundamental building block of society. Without a family with a mother and a father to teach them, children grow up with a skewed sense of their place in society. They struggle to understand their civic duty and they have more difficulty becoming a contributing citizen. It is important that our society preserve this fundamental unit. If this unit crumbles or if it is forcibly replaced by a government or social activists, the very fundamental part of our free society will disappear and we will be left to stumble in the dark.
I thought this was a very interesting report on the shifting ideas of the upcoming generation’s perspective on gender roles and in particular the role of women in the workplace and in society. Look closely at the numbers presented. What do you think should be a woman’s role? Where would you fall in these polls?
The following is an essay by Hyrum Arnesen, my brother, which won first place in the “America’s Freedom Festival at Provo” essay contest.
No civilization in history has succeeded in maintaining itself. Each one has risen to power, become prosperous, and eventually declined, falling into decay. Can any country escape this fateful cycle? Yes! The Founding Fathers understood the reasons for the downfall of civilizations. They warned the Americans about these dangers, teaching them how they could maintain their freedom. Their formula for freedom included strong families, a willingness to sacrifice, and a strong reliance in God. Building on this foundation will keep our country strong.
For our country to stay strong, its people must be strong. They must be a virtuous, well-taught people if they are to carry on the tradition of freedom in this country. Good families build good people. The teaching in the home cannot be rivaled by any other organization. The Founding Fathers understood this principle. John Adams wrote, “The foundation of national morality must be laid in private families…. How is it possible that Children can have any just Sense of the sacred Obligations of Morality or Religion if, from their earliest Infancy, they learn their Mothers live in habitual Infidelity to their fathers, and their fathers in as constant Infidelity to their Mothers?” John and Abigail Adams exemplified the strength of a good family. While John was away in Congress, Abigail wrote constantly to him, supporting him, encouraging him, and prodding him to keep working in his trying circumstances. She helped to shape his ideas about freedom, as he shaped the country’s ideas about freedom. Today, when children learn in their homes about the heritage of freedom in our country, they can fight for it with strength and power.
America was founded on immense sacrifice. Soldiers bled, froze, and suffered extreme trials. Civilians’ homes were burned or used as stables, livestock was scattered, and food was destroyed or used by the British. However, these people were glad to sacrifice for freedom, for “liberty must at all hazards be supported…at the expense of their ease, their estates, their pleasure, and their blood.” The Americans were fierce for freedom. They would not, for any reward, give it up. The soldiers at Valley Forge could have deserted, but instead, they endured their trials knowing that “they that can give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.” This heritage of sacrifice continues today. During the Vietnam war a captured American soldier, carefully stitched an American flag from the threads of his own clothing. When the flag was discovered, it was destroyed and he was severely beaten. Undaunted, as soon as he recovered, he started stitching a new flag—the flag that represented freedom, his country, and his willingness to sacrifice for both.
Throughout all their trials, the Americans maintained a firm reliance on divine providence, trusting that God would help them. This reliance is as vital today as it was then. Thomas Jefferson wrote, “Can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are the gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with his wrath? Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just: that his justice cannot sleep for ever.” Similarly, George Washington clarified why America needs a strong reliance on God. He said, “The foundation of our national policy will be laid in the pure and immutable principles of private morality; …the propitious smiles of Heaven can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right which Heaven itself has ordained.” Our government, our country cannot stand without a firm reliance in God. This country was founded with His aid. It cannot survive without it. We cannot maintain our freedom if we foolishly throw away our Christian morals and principles. As John Adams said, “Statesmen, my dear Sir, may plan and speculate for liberty, but it is Religion and Morality alone, which can establish the Principles upon which Freedom can securely stand.”
Following these principles of strong families, sacrifice for freedom, and a firm reliance in God will give America strength. Without these principles, America will decline and fall into decay. With these principles, freedom will be protected and America will remain strong. Strong families create strong individuals, sacrifice protects hard-fought liberty, and a firm reliance in God ensures divine intervention in our behalf. The fateful cycle of civilization is broken and America endures in freedom.
American presidents have the prerogative to issues proclamations that affect public policy and draw the public’s attention to issues that are important to the president. This week Barack Obama issued such a proclamation. It proclaims the month of June 2009 as “Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month.” In the proclamation, Obama stated, “I am proud to be the first President to appoint openly LGBT candidates to Senate-confirmed positions in the first 100 days of an Administration. These individuals embody the best qualities we seek in public servants.” He further said, “As long as the promise of equality for all remains unfulfilled, all Americans are affected. If we can work together to advance the principles upon which our Nation was founded, every American will benefit.”
I am amazed but not surprised at the forwardness with which Obama is pressing his agenda upon the American people. To make a presidential proclamation such as this forces Americans who are opposed to the agenda of the LGBT to unwillingly participate in supporting this divisive cause. While what Obama has done is not illegal in any sense, it is a frightening harbinger of what may be to come as this administration coddles and lulls the American people away from their values and into selfish and sinful activity. We do need to “work together to advance the principles upon which our Nation was founded,” but officially recognizing and condoning behavior that is contrary to the values of the founders will only hurt the long term prosperity and success of America.
At Gettysburg, Lincoln dedicated a portion of the battlefield “as a final resting place for those who [there] gave their lives that [this] nation might live.” On this day this year we remember those men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country. Whether we are rich or poor, republican or democrat, educated or no we owe them an eternal debt of gratitude. We live in a land blessed with the gift of freedom bought and payed for with the blood of her sons and daughters. We salute the fallen soldiers and all those who have served or now serve to protect and defend this country. Thank You.