My parents taught me not to wear a baseball cap at the dinner table. Not to talk politics with guests. Use manners. And clear your plate. Simple. My mother drilled these rules into my sisters and me and I’m sure yours did as well.
In my line of work – being a thought leader – I try and live these same rules. I don’t wear a baseball cap when I’m on stage speaking to audiences. I never push my political beliefs. And I try and use manners when I write books and blogs and when I talk to clients.
I think, today, I’m going to break one of those rules.
While in college, I served as a Congressional intern to my hometown United States Congressman, Benjamin Gilman. He was one of the greatest men I have ever had the honor to learn from. During my summer internship in Washington D.C., I got the opportunity to meet and hear from many of our country’s leaders. Democrats. Republicans. Americans.
One of the leaders I will never forget meeting in 1992 was the Senate Majority Leader, Bob Dole. Senator Dole, a WWII veteran and patriot, shared with a couple hundred interns a powerful story of America.
“I have been a United States Senator for thirty-six years. And in my nearly four decades in public office, I’ve received hundreds, if not thousands of letters from Americans asking my office for help:
“Can you help get my father in Venezuela a green card?”
“Can you help my uncle in North Korea get a U.S. Visa?”
“Can you help my brother in Mexico get a U.S. work-permit?”
“Can you help my cousin from Iran on his path to U.S. citizenship?”
“Hundreds of these letters”, shared the Senator.
“In thirty-six years, I have NEVER received one letter from an American citizen asking my help to get them out of this country!”
“Democracy. And the United States of America are not perfect. We have our flaws and share of mistakes. But we are still the GREATEST country in the world!”
I will never forget Bob Dole’s words. Nearly twenty-five years later, Senator Dole’s words ring true – We don’t have a perfect nation, but the United States is still the greatest country in the world.
I went to college in eastern North Carolina near the Marine Corps Base, Camp Lejeune.When you drive past Lejeune there is a huge sign that reads, “Freedom Isn’t Free”. Gives me goose bumps even saying those three words today, just as it did as an 18-year old college freshman.
This BLOG is not about Republicans or Democrats. It isn’t about who’s right and who is wrong. It is to remind Americans that we fought many wars to preserve our greatest national treasure: Freedom. And Freedom Isn’t Free.
So, the next time you hear the national anthem or see a flag being raised, thank God you live in a country that doesn’t force (or execute) you to stand for the flag. But for heaven’s sake, at least listen to your mama and take off your damn ball cap, show some manners and stand up for America!