Drinking From Wells We Did Not Dig: A Tribute.
By Kevin Probst
I thought about my father on Veteran’s Day as I always do. He served during WWII in the European sector. My uncle Fred was somewhat of a legend for his heroics during the conflict with the Germans. They shipped my Uncle Paul to Asia. They were truly a Great Generation of men for which I have the utmost respect. Though they survived the war each one was willing to die for freedom and liberty and honor. They certainly loved their country and they embraced a hope for her future. My father not only fought for a truth he believed in, he also fought for the sons he did not yet have.
Were I able to invite my father back from his grave for a period of time he would certainly be astounded at the country for which he fought. He would want very much to know about our sitting president. I cringe at the thought of explaining to him why our president leaves our shores and bows to the heads of other states. He wouldn’t understand why our president apologizes to our enemies. I think my father would me misty eyed if he knew that our president criticizes his own country. How could it happen that the country he fought so hard for now has a president who apologizes to countries who support and cheer those who attack us.
Benjamin West, the great Anglo-American artist, informed King George III that George Washington, having won the war against the British, would not pursue a kingship, rather, he would return to his farm. King George III said: “If he does that, he will be the greatest man in the world.”
I wouldn’t dare compare George Bush to George Washington, but I would like to point out that Republican presidents serve and then go home. Democratic presidents (Carter and Clinton) continue to criticize and nip at the heels of any sitting president. Wouldn’t it be more noble to retire with dignity rather than pretend you still have power. There is something tragically sad about that.
George Washington was great because he knew and employed self-restraint. He understood and supported the reasons why the Constitution limited a President’s power. We had just fought a war to preserve the right to treat even kings like any other. Washington understood that great power he had and the necessity of reining in that power lest he or any of those who followed him would corrupt and abuse that power. He understood his role was to defend the Constitution, not rewrite or reinterpret it.
The display of royalty emanating from the White House was foreign to previous presidents. Mike Pence, in a speech to the students of Hillsdale College told of an incident in the life of Calvin Coolidge. “President Coolidge, like Lincoln, lost a child while he was president, a son of sixteen. ‘The day I became president,’ Coolidge said, ‘he had just started to work in a tobacco field. When one of his fellow laborers said to him, ‘If my father was president I would not work in a tobacco field.’ Calvin replied, ‘If my father were your father you would.’ Young Calvin contracted blood poisoning from an incident on the South Lawn of the White House.”
The loss of his son brought a stark reality to Calvin Coolidge. He had real limitations as president. “In his suffering he was asking me to make him well. I could not. When he went, the power and glory of the presidency went with him.”
We have had scores of presidents and many of them have been great men. But not one of those who were truly great was convinced of their own greatness. We must be very wary of a man who enjoys and relishes his position on the pedestal. The French politician and philosopher Charles de Montesquieu once said, “To become truly great, one has to stand with people, not above them.” It is never the president’s duty to rule over us, rather, it is his obligation to govern from a position that identifies him as one of us. There should be no condescension, there should be no ‘ruling class’ mentality. There should be no delusion that he is a ruler. The founding fathers were very clear that this great country is not to be governed by its politicians, rather, it is to be governed by its citizens.
The blood of thousands of patriotic Americans stain the soils of Yorktown and Gettysburg. American blood was spilled on Iwo Jima and soaked the sands of Omaha Beach. I shall never believe those lives were sacrificed in vain. They died because they believed that America would be great, not just for a season, but until the end of time. I believe in the future of our country because we are descendents of great men, great men who founded this country, great men who fought and died for her and great men who governed and guided this ship through many troubled waters.
"We have all drunk from wells
we did not dig, and been
warmed by fires we did not build".
We all have an obligation to those who dug those wells and built those fires. Thanks Dad, Uncle Fred and Uncle Paul. I have only realized recently your greatness. I pray God will help us to continue to raise up generations of great Americans.
Kevin Probst - Is a teacher of Apologetics and History at Calvary Christian School and Associate Pastor of Crosspointe Nazarene Church church in Columbus, Georgia.