Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Bill Moyers' West Point Speech

I just read the kind of speech Americans need to hear more. The website, Tom Paine, has a speech given by Bill Moyers a couple of weeks ago at West Point (big hat tip to Susie Madrak of Suburban Guerilla who catches these things); it's a long speech that covers issues from Iraq to military history to the needs of veterans and to the core issues of our nation—this is just one excerpt:
...no one in uniform did more to help us define freedom in a profoundly American way—than the man whose monument here at West Point I also asked to visit today—Thaddeus Kosciuszko. ...


Kosciuszko had been born in Lithuania-Poland, where he was trained as an engineer and artillery officer. Arriving in the 13 colonies in 1776, he broke down in tears when he read the Declaration of Independence. The next year, he helped engineer the Battle of Saratoga, organizing the river and land fortifications that put Americans in the stronger position. George Washington then commissioned him to build the original fortifications for West Point. Since his monument dominates the point here at the Academy, this part of the story you must know well.

But what many don’t realize about Kosciuszko is the depth of his commitment to republican ideals and human equality. One historian called him “a mystical visionary of human rights.” Thomas Jefferson wrote that Kosciuszko was “as pure a son of liberty as I have ever known.” That phrase of Jefferson’s is often quoted, but if you read the actual letter, Jefferson goes on to say: “And of that liberty which is to go to all, and not to the few and the rich alone.”

There is the clue to the meaning of freedom as Thaddeus Kosciuszko saw it.

That's the America that's getting lost. That's the America Franklin Roosevelt understood and fought for.

Read the speech. There aren't many people out there who understand the current situation better than Bill Moyers.

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