America’s Challenge

Ezra Taft Benson. America’s Challenge. from God, Family, Country: Our Three Great Loyalties. 1974, 379.

Near Boston, Massachusetts, rests a large boulder on Lexington Green. Inscribed on this rock are the words that Captain John Parker gave to his Minute Men on April 19, 1775:

Stand your ground.
Don’t fire unless fired upon;
but if they mean to have a war,
let it begin here!

Said Webster, “They poured out their generous blood like water before they knew whether it would fertilize the land of freedom or of bondage.”

But they aroused their fellow Americans. Within one year John Adams faced the body of men who were deliberating on whether to adopt the Declaration of Independence. With the inspiration of heaven resting upon him, Adams was said to have declared.

Sink or swim, live or die, survive or perish, I give my hand and my heart to this vote. It is true, indeed, that in the beginning we aimed not at independence. But there’s a Divinity which shapes our ends. The injustice of England has driven us to arms; and blinded to her own interest for our good, she has obstinately persisted, till independence is now within our grasp. We have but to reach forth to it, and it is ours.

Why, then, should we defer the Declaration? Is any man so weak as now to hope for a reconciliation with England? . . .

You and I, indeed, may rue it. We may not live to the time when this Declaration shall be made good. We may die; die Colonists; die slaves, die, it may be, ignominiously and on the scaffold.

Be it so. Be it so.

If it be the pleasure of Heaven that my country shall require the poor offering of my life, the victim shall be ready. . . . But while I do live, let me have a country, or at least the hope of a country, and that a free country.

But whatever may be our fate, be assured . . . that this Declaration will stand. It may cost treasure, and it may cost blood; but it will stand, and it will richly compensate for both.

Through the thick gloom of the present, I see the brightness of the future, as the sun in heaven. We shall make this a glorious, an immortal day. When we are in our graves, our children will honor it. They will celebrate it with thanksgiving, with festivity, with bonfires, and illuminations. On its annual return they will shed tears, copious, gushing tears, not of subjection and slavery, not of agony and distress, but of exultation, of gratitude and of joy.

Sir, before God, I believe the hour is come. My judgment approves this measure, and my whole heart is in it. All that I have, and all that I am, and all that I hope, in this life, I am now ready here to stake upon it; and I leave off as I began, that live or die, survive or perish, I am for the Declaration. It is my living sentiment, and by the blessing of God it shall be my dying sentiment, Independence now, and Independence forever. (Daniel Webster Discourse on “Adams and Jefferson,” August 2, 1826.)

I recently read the great volume Quest of a Hemisphere by Donzella Cross Boyle, published by Western Islands, Boston. I am grateful we have a textbook for our children, grandchildren, and their parents that restores that which has in many cases been removed by wolves in sheep’s clothing—one-worlders who would surrender all we hold dear as true Americans. Chapter 8 is worth the price of the book.

Here we read again, as some of us are old enough to remember, the courageous and stirring words against the Navigation Acts, the Stamp Act of 1765, and taxation without representation. In this real American history we have the record of Washington, Jefferson, and the record of Samuel Adams of Boston, who organized Committees of Correspondence and groups of young men banded together as Sons of Liberty. We read again the words of James Otis that a law was void if it violated the human rights of men and “a man who is quiet, is as secure in his house as a prince in his castle. . . .”

Here we read:

The colonists fought the threat of aggression as much as agression itself. . . .

With grim determination, they opposed every attempt to rob them of any liberty they had gained.

[To the colonists—our benefactors—] it was not so much the amount as the principle of taxation (without representation) that the colonists opposed. (Pp. 105-106.)

Here again in this new history are also the fiery words “Give me liberty” of Patrick Henry of Virginia, as well as his words: “If this be treason, make the most of it.” We find John Hancock, George Mason, Paul Revere, John Dickinson and his Letters from a Farmer: “We cannot be happy without being free. . . .”

Here are the words of the closing paragraph of chapter 8:

The British colonies were largely settled by people who had revolted against their living conditions in other lands. They were rebels, in a sense, who had the courage to flee from want and persecution, and face the perils of a wilderness to seek a better form of life. When they found a better way, they fought to keep it. Their children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren did not want any monarch to change their way of life. They had plowed their own lands, built their own homes, and made their own clothes. They had hunted in the forests, fished in the streams, and slept under the stars. Who was their master? (Quest of a Hemisphere, p. 113.)

Chapter 7 closes with a discussion of freedom of the press and these stirring words inspired by Peter Zenger: “The right to print the truth is a necessary part of political liberty,” and these by the famous lawyer Andrew Hamilton of Philadelphia: “The loss of liberty to a generous mind is worse than death. . . . The man who loves his country, prefers its liberty to all other considerations, well knowing that without liberty, life is a misery.” (Ibid., p. 84.)

And this is the closing paragraph:

Thus, in colonial days, did the people of the colonies stand firmly against any form of dictatorship. Thousands of immigrants came to the settlements along the Atlantic seaboard, with only a vague idea of the freedoms they were seeking, because they had not known many of them. They were pursuing a vision. Freedoms sprouted in a wilderness like flowers on a vacant lot, because each person who came had broken the pattern of life in his old country and he was starting all over again. “Something new” began to grow in the New World—a mere idea. People began to question the right of government to interfere with their freedom to come and go, to buy and sell, to own or lease, to talk or listen, to vote and elect. In other words, people began to think they had the right to govern themselves. Yet, a new nation had to rise in the Western Hemisphere before this idea gained a force of law. (Ibid., p. 84.)

Reading and promoting the book Quest of a Hemisphere will give you, as it has me, a warm, satisfying feeling. This excellent book of American history should be in every school and in every home to be read by young and old. We need more works of life quality in the days ahead.

And so today on Lexington Green, you will see a sacred old monument nearing two hundred years of age that covers the remains of those patriotic Minute Men and on this monument are inscribed these words:

Sacred to liberty and the rights of mankind!
The freedom and independence of America
Sealed and defended with the blood of her sons.
This monument is erected
By the inhabitants of Lexington,
Under the patronage, and at the expense, of
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts,
To the memory of their fellow citizens,
Ensign Robert Monroe, Messrs. Jonas Parker,
Samuel Hadley, Jonathan Harrington, Jr.,
Isaac Muzzy, Caleb Harrington and John Brown
Of Lexington, and Ashael Porter of Woburn,
Who fell on this field, the first victims to the
Sword of British tyranny and oppression,
On the morning of the ever memorable
19th of April, An. Dom. 1775.
The die was cast!
The blood of these martyrs
In the cause of God and their country,
Was the cement of the Union of these states, then
Colonies; and gave the spring to the spirit, firmness
And resolution of their fellow citizens.
They rose as one man, to revenge their brethren’s
Blood and at the point of the sword, to assert and
Defend their native rights.
They nobly dared to be free!
The contest was long, bloody and affecting.
Righteous heaven approved the solemn appeal;
Victory crowned their arms; and
The peace, liberty and independence of the United
States of America was their glorious reward.
Built in the year 1799.

With independence won, another body of men assembled; and under the inspiration of heaven, they too drafted a document, probably the greatest instrument ever struck off at a given time by the mind of man: the Constitution of the United States.

Said President J. Reuben Clark, Jr., a great constitutional lawyer:

The framers [of the Constitution] were not political tyros flying a political kite to keep in order the henyard, that is, the colonists. They were men widely experienced in affairs of government. . . .

The Constitution was not the work of cloistered, fanatical theorists, but of sober, seasoned, distinguished men of affairs, drawn from various walks of life. They included students of wide reading and great learning in all matters of government. . . .

The Constitution was born, not only of the wisdom and experience of the generations that had gone before and which had been transmitted to them through tradition and the pages of history. . .

These were the horse and buggy days as they have been called in derision; these were the men who traveled in the horsedrawn buggies and on horseback; but these were the men who carried under their hats, as they rode in the buggies and on their horses, a political wisdom garnered from the ages. As giants to pygmies are they when placed alongside our political emigres and their fellow travelers of today, who now traduce them with slighting and contemptuous phrase. (Stand Fast by Our Constitution, pp. 134-37.)

Those two documents—the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States—resting on the bedrock of the love of the Lord and of liberty, became the foundation of our republic. And from this foundation has come the greatest civilization on the face of the earth.

But for every righteous principle the devil seems to design a counterfeit. And so while our Constitution was being established in the land of America—a land choice above all others—the forces of evil across the world were laying the foundation of modern-day godless communism. Marx wanted to dethrone God and to destroy capitalism. In the Communist Manifesto, he called for “the forcible overthrow of all existing social conditions.” Lenin demanded “a small tight kernel consisting of reliable, experienced, and steeled workers with responsible agents in the chief districts, and connected by all the rules of strict conspiracy.” (Lenin on Organization, New York: International Publishers, 1:74.)

And from this foundation of communism has come the greatest tyranny ever imposed on mankind in recorded history. Today communism represents the greatest threat to peace, prosperity, and the spread of God’s work on the earth.

Recently there was published a series of articles based on the observations of a number of historians: Spengler, de Reincourt, Ferraro, Gibbons, and others. The author told how Rome had known a pioneer beginning not unlike our own pioneer heritage, and then entered into two centuries of greatness, reaching its pinnacle in the second of those centuries, going into the decline and collapse in the third. Yet the sins of decay were becoming apparent in the latter years of that second century. We are now approaching the end of our second century.

Some time ago I spent two weeks in war-torn Asia. While there I held six meetings with Mormon servicemen in Vietnam. In combat dress—sometimes with guns stacked in the corner of the chapel—these faithful Latter-day Saints, bearers of the priesthood, strained to hear the gospel messages above the roar of helicopters and jet fighters leaving or returning from bombing missions, with the background of gunfire heard in the distance.

After shaking hands with more than eight hundred of these battle-hardened, brave, and patriotic men, men hard as nails physically and filled with faith and testimony, my right hand ached and my heart was filled with mingled feelings of gratitude and sadness.

I thought of the thousands of sons, brothers, and husbands who gave their lives in this, the strangest war in our nation’s history. I made side trips by helicopter to visit others critically wounded in hospitals. I thought of those who were reported missing or captured, and those who had died from noncombat causes, whose loved ones also mourned the loss caused by this strange war.

A few days later at an Asia-wide Mormon Servicemen’s Conference at Mt. Fuji, Japan, I listened to testimonies of faith and love of country that brought lumps to throats and tears to many eyes. These men, all American citizens, came to the conference from Thailand, Taiwan, Korea, Japan, Okinawa, the Philippines, Hong Kong, Guam, and other points. Some had traveled 3,000 miles to get there.

These were men who were ready to give their all in defense of freedom. These American servicemen worried about reports from home of rioters, draft-card burners, and other citizens—many times more numerous—who seemed oblivious to the threats to our freedom as they continued to enjoy their comfortable complacency. They worried about those many complacent citizens at home, some in high places, who talk—some gullibly, others they fear deceptively—of peaceful coexistence with the greatest, most destructive and insidious evil in the world. They knew that as college campus riots spread, so does the communist’s role in the disturbances.

And yet we have men, including some in high places, who declare that communism is not the principal threat to the United States of America. People who make such statements are either uninformed, sadly naive, or else they are deliberately helping the communist conspiracy, the greatest evil in this world and the greatest threat to all we hold dear.

No, most of these servicemen—especially the officers—were not deceived. They would hope that their fellow citizens at home would get one thing straight at the very beginning: international communism is the self-avowed enemy of every loyal American. It has declared war against us and fully intends to win. The war in which we are engaged is total. Although its main battlefields are psychological, political, and economic, it also encompasses revolution, violence, terror, and limited military skirmishes.

One of the greatest tragedies of all time—and a fact that an increasing number of us are gradually coming to realize—is this: The growth and increasing success of communism around the world has been primarily the result of the support—yes, increasing support—that it has received from right within the United States, and particularly from our own government.

May I commend to you the book by Werner Keller entitled East Minus West Equals Zero, in order that you might see the documentation as to how we deliberately established Russia’s industrial and war-making power. May I also commend to you the filmstrip The Great Pretense—How to Finance Communism While Ostensibly Opposing It, a documentary on how the free world finances communism.

Now, some people may feel that this has just been stupidity on our part and the mistakes of mortal men who really meant well but did not realize what they were doing. I agree that there has been some stupidity on the part of some people, but consistence has never been a hallmark of stupidity. I believe it was Forrestal who said that if it were just stupidity, then we would have made a few more mistakes on our side now and then, because stupidity is not consistent.

Sometimes we have appeared to take a step forward toward freedom, but it has inevitably been followed by two steps backward toward communism. Not only has this been true in our foisting communism onto other countries, but it also holds true regarding the increasing socialistic-communistic trends in America.

President Clark said:

And do not think that all these usurpations, intimidations, and impositions are being done to us through inadvertence or mistakes; the whole course is deliberately planned and carried out; its purpose is to destroy the Constitution and our constitutional government; then to bring chaos, out of which the new Statism, with its slavery, is to arise, with a cruel, relentless, selfish, ambitious crew in the saddle, riding hard with whip and spur, a red-shrouded band of night riders for despotism. . . .

If we do not vigorously fight for our liberties, we shall go clear through to the end of the road and become another Russia, or worse. . . . (Church News, September 25, 1949.)

Thomas Jefferson said:

Single acts of tyranny may be ascribed to the accidental opinion of a day; but a series of oppressions, begun at a distinguished period, and pursued unalterably through every change of ministers, too plainly prove a deliberate, systematical plan of reducing us to slavery. (A Summary View of the Rights of British America, 1774.)

Do you think we could have defeated Hitler in World War II if we had trained his pilots for him, built his steel mills, sent him billions in aid, traded with him, and let his men run for office in our country, work in our defense plants, teach our children? Yet this is exactly what we did for the communists, and our trade with them was in practically all the essentials that they needed to kill our men in Vietnam.

Quoting again from President Clark:

I have wished to bring together and call to your attention a number of matters, the close relationship of which it is easy to miss, and to indicate to you that, so assembled, they make a pattern which cannot be accounted for except on the theory that some group of minds is working out a diabolical plan for the destruction of our liberties and freedom, our divinely inspired Constitution and the Government our fathers set up thereunder, and the wiping out of our constitutional guarantees and the free lives, the security, the happiness, and the blessings we have enjoyed thereunder. (Address given to the Utah Wool Growers Association, January 24, 1945.)

Of the objectives for which the communists are presently pressing, how many can you name where they are not presently succeeding in this country? The communist party line is for increased East-West trade, peaceful coexistence, disarmament talks, reduction in military spending, etc. Are they succeeding?

Even back in the FBI Annual Report for 1964, J. Edgar Hoover reported: “The signing of the partial nuclear testban treaty was interpreted by the Communist Party, USA, as resulting from a shift in the world balance of forces in favor of communism and as a turning away from capitalism toward `socialism.'”

Now what are we going to do about it? Said John Greenleaf Whittier:

. . . Where’s the manly spirit
Of the true-hearted and the unshackled gone?
Sons of old freemen, do we but inherit their names alone?
Is the old Pilgrim spirit quench’d within us?
Stoops the proud manhood of our souls so low
That Mammon’s lure or Party’s wile can win us to silence now?
Now, when our land to ruin’s brink is verging,
In God’s name let us speak while there is time;
Now, when the padlock for our lips is forging,
Silence is a Crime.
—”A Summons”

So let’s speak up. James Russell Lowell was right when he said, “Our American Republic will endure only as long as the ideas of the men who founded it continue dominant.”

What were those ideas? Well, they were in part incorporated in our Declaration of Independence and our Constitution. And George Washington covered them well when he said:

Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports . . . reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle. It is substantially true that virtue or morality is a necessary spring of popular government. . . . (Farewell Address, September 17, 1796.)

Only a moral and religious people deserve or will defend their freedom. Edmund Burke stated it well when he said:

Men are qualified for civil liberty in exact proportion to their disposition to put moral chains upon their own appetites—in proportion as their love of justice is above their rapacity;—in proportion as their soundness and sobriety of understanding is above their vanity and presumption;—in proportion as they are more disposed to listen to the counsels of the wise and good, in preference to the flattery of knaves. Society cannot exist, unless a controlling power upon the will and appetite is placed somewhere; and the less of it there is within, the more there must be without. It is ordained in the eternal constitution of things, that men of intemperate minds cannot be free. Their passions forge their fetters. (Works, 1888 ed., vol. 4, pp. 51-52.)

Elder Albert E. Bowen said, “Self-government involves self-control, self-discipline, an acceptance of and the most unremitting obedience to correct principles. . . . No other form of government requires so high a degree of individual morality.” (Improvement Era, vol. 41 [1938], p. 266.)

And how are we to accomplish this?

We cannot accomplish this and be like the young man who lived with his parents in a public housing development, rode the free school bus, and participated in the free school lunch program. He obtained his degree at the state university, working part-time in the state capitol to supplement his GI education check.

Upon graduation, he married a public health nurse and obtained an RFC loan to go into business. He then bought a ranch with an FHA loan and obtained emergency feed from the government. He later put part of his land into the soil bank, and the payments soon took care of the loan on his ranch.

The government helped to clear his land, and the county agent showed him how to terrace it. Then the government built him a fish pond and stocked it with many fish. The government guaranteed him a sale for his farm products at highest prices.

His children grew up, entered public schools, ate free lunches, rode free school buses, and swam in public pools.

He signed a petition seeking federal assistance in developing a doubtful industrial project to help the economy of his area. He was the leader in obtaining the new post office and federal building and went to Washington with a group to ask the government to build a great dam costing millions so that his community could get the benefit of a temporary payroll.

He petitioned the government to give the local airbase to the county. He was also a leader in the movement to get special tax write-offs and exemptions for his specific type farming.

Then, one day, after calculating his taxes, he wrote his congressman, “I wish to protest the excessive government expenditures and attendant high taxes. I believe in rugged individualism. I think people should stand on their own two feet without expecting handouts. I am opposed to all socialistic trends, and I demand a return to the principles of our Constitution and the policies of states’ rights.”

Too many of us are like this young man.

We must be devoted to sound principles in word and deed: principle above party, principle above pocketbook, principle above popularity.

After we are soundly grounded in principle, the next two steps should follow automatically:

  1. We must be well informed from sources that are consistently accurate on the things of greatest consequence.
  2. We must take action after we have done our homework.

“My people are destroyed from lack of knowledge,” said the prophet Hosea. Let’s not let it happen to us. First, let’s do our homework, because action without the proper education can lead to fanaticism. But after we have done our homework, then let’s take action, because education without action can only lead to frustration and failure.

Said Lenin:

The Party is the conscious, advanced section of a class, its advance guard. The power of this advance guard is ten, a hundred times greater than its number. Is that possible? Can the power of a hundred exceed the power of thousands? It can exceed it when the hundreds are organized. Organization increases power by tenfold. (Quoted in Political Education: The Communist Party, Part III, New York: International Publishers, 1935, p. 6.)

He was right, and an organized Gideon’s army in the fight for freedom can defeat this godless communist conspiracy. And so, I commend and salute all those patriots who have banded together to work in an effective and honorable manner to accomplish the objective of less government, more individual responsibility, and, with God’s help, a better world.

May God bless America and preserve our divine Constitution and the republic that he established thereunder.

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