The following was sent in my reader OneIfByLand:
Robert, your post the other day about you being a former gun-control advocate got me to thinking about my childhood and growing up in a rural community. I was fortunate to grow up in a household where my father was a gun-rights supporter. He use to take me and my brothers shooting from a very young age. He understood that young boys in particular would be curious about firearms, and always made it a point to let us know that whenever we wanted to see any of his firearms, all we had to do was ask and he would take the time to stop what he was doing to show us, let us ask questions, hold and learn about any of his firearms while under his direct supervision. These were the days when . . .
firearms security was not as much of a focus, and many of his rifles and even handguns were not stored in a safe (although he always stored them unloaded with ammunition stored in a separate location) – even with three boys, I can’t really recall a time when we let our curiosity get the better of us. Knowing that we could always ask dad to see his firearms and knowing he would show us, took a lot of the mystery away and stemmed our natural curiosity.
My grandfather came to America when he was 17, from Italy. I remember distinctly how he would tell us some of the differences that makes America unique. When he was growing up in Italy, there was a king…the loyalty was always to the king. In America, he would always point out that things were different here. Unlike kings, presidents come and go, and in America, you are loyal to your flag (i.e. your country), not to any one person.
The flag symbolizes the country and, you owe your loyalty to no one person or institution, but to the flag of the United States. This is best represented in the Pledge of Allegiance. We pledge our allegiance to the flag, of the United States of America. Not to any one person or institution. A fact that I believe is lost on the current administration which has taken to using such euphemisms for government as “federal family,” or when referring to the NSA, “these are your friends and neighbors” in an effort to somehow humanize the institution. To make government somehow less threatening.
All this brings me back to where I started this e-mail…”What It Means To Be An American” and all I can remember is the plaque that was hanging on the wall in my bedroom for as long as I can remember. My father put it there. He can no longer remember where he got it, but he hung it on our bedroom wall to remind us as we were growing up, what it really means to be an American.
I have done some research, and it is originally attributed to Thomas Paine’s “Common Sense” and it was known as the “Entrepreneur’s Credo”. It was then modified slightly and republished by Dean Alfange who, ironically was a appointee in NYS Government as a member of the Racing and Wagering Board, and Deputy NYS Attorney General in the mid 1970s – the same state government that today, is intent on restricting our natural, civil and constitutional rights.
Alfange was also a founding member of the Liberal Party of New York (back when “liberalism” meant something vastly different than it does today) which was founded to provide an explicitly anti-communist counterbalance to the American Labor Party.
Although Alfange supported “Judicial Activism” and the notion the the US Constitution was a “Living Document” he also served in a number of activist roles including in a Zionist organization known as the “Committee to Arm the Jewish State” a group that sought to end the arms embargoes against Israel (Source WikiPedia)
In the 1950’s, Alfange penned “An American’s Creed” (also known as “My Creed”) – a version that was adapted from Thomas Paine’s credo, and it was that version that hung on my bedroom wall for as long as I can remember. It said:
I do not choose to be a common man. It is my right to be uncommon, if I can. I seek opportunity…not security. I do not wish to be a kept citizen, humbled and dulled by having the state look after me. I want to take the calculated risk; to dream and to build, to fail and to succeed. I refuse to barter incentive for a dole. I prefer the challenges of life to the guaranteed existence; the thrill of fulfillment to the sale calm of utopia. I will not trade freedom for beneficence nor my dignity for a handout. I will never cower before any master nor bend to any threat. It is my heritage to stand erect, proud and unafraid; to think, and act for myself, enjoy the benefits of my creations and say ‘This I have done’…All this, is what it means, to be an American.
Some may ask, what does this have to do with firearms? I say….Everything.
Like the private ownership of firearms and the value we place on the commitment to ensure our own personal security, this mindset is what sets Americans apart from every other person in every other county around the world.
I still have the same plaque that was hanging on my bedroom wall, and this morning I walked down to my garage, pulled it out of storage…wiped it down with a soft cloth, and hung it again in my home, for all to see.
This is what it means to be an American. I am that American. And I am a gun owner.