Beltway Beat — Friday, July 2

by Brian Wilson for FOX Fan Central

Get Your Hanky and Wave Your Flag

I am reading a fascinating book right now, one of those books that doesn't take long to read but may take years to truly absorb. It is a collection of the writings of Thomas Jefferson, assembled by Eric Petersen, entitled Light and Liberty: Reflections on the Pursuit of Happiness. Eleven pages in, I found words which hit me square between the eyes. They seem appropriate on this holiday as America celebrates its birthday during what many might consider challenging times.

Thomas Jefferson was an optimist, and I think he had a good fix on the American people — then and now. Consider these thoughts:

"It is part of the American character to consider nothing as desperate; to surmount every difficulty with resolution and contrivance. When we see ourselves in a situation which must be endured and gone through, it is best to make up our minds to it. Meet it with firmness and accommodate everything to it in the best way practicable. This lessens the evil, while fretting and fuming only serve to increase our own torment. Fortitude teaches us to meet and surmount difficulties; not fly from them, like cowards; and to fly too, in vain, for they will meet and arrest us at every turn of the road. Go on therefore with courage and your will find it grows easier and easier."

Thomas Jefferson in letter to Martha Jefferson. March 28, 1787

Jefferson is talking here about something that often goes overlooked: the resolve of the American people. Who could ever forget how the country united following the 9/11 attacks? We may have our differences in the political arena, but our history is replete with examples of how the American people rise to a challenge when presented.

I first noticed this years ago when I covered the Oklahoma City bombing. The good people of the Sooner State came together within minutes of that disaster. Any time I have reported on disaster or calamity, I have always been struck at how quickly people adapt to the crisis, set their collective jaws and take to the task of rebuilding. It is one of the things that makes me proud that I am an American.

So as we pause to honor the anniversary of the birth of our country, let us also pay tribute to the real strength of this Republic — the people -— who enjoy the right to "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" — thanks, in part to Mr. Jefferson.

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