Democracy Has A Slim Chance To Survive Without Honor, Integrity And Guts!

By Donald A. Collins | 17 March 2024
Church and State

(Credit: YouTube / screengrab)

Now with the nominations for President confirmed, the Biden Trump rematch voters have 7 months to ponder what will be the most consequential vote since the Civil War! That deeply divided America in 1860 cost more lives than our 2 WW wars combined! World War One: 117,000 killed, World War Two: 417,000 killed.

The name of Trump’s game from the outset has been to ride on the back of hatred to undermine our treasured institutions and our Constitution as pathways to power!

With his total takeover of the GOP, now his MAGA GOP, the coming months will be even more divisive.

It shouldn’t have happened, but Trump’s tragic treason will not even be litigated before November 5th, leaving voters to grope amid a deluge of questionably accurate sources for what they feel is not only best for them, but what is best for the country. Trump’s strategy in getting his trials delayed is working perfectly.

Not recognized well enough by too many of our citizens of every political persuasion is the fact that our democracy has remarkably succored most of us since our founding.

From the demeaning language of Trump and his treasonous abettors there is no guilt about destroying our heritage and denigrating our international reputation.

As an American I am proud of our history and favor in my lifetime the progress we have made in rectifying our deep racism, our anti feminism, and our efforts to check the authoritarian takeover by a GOP so diminished of integrity as it now unwinds.

Those who read of those terrible days of the Civil War which was caused by our embrace of slavery knew that our moral mistake still left fortunately significant vestiges of loyalty to the grand concept of the improved possible future our founding fathers envisioned.

So I dare you to indulge your idealistic emotions as you read John Greenleaf Whittier’s poem about Barbara Fritchie, an American Civil War Union woman patriot whose courage was evident to Stonewall Jackson, the Southerners most famous general.

Whittier’s most famous lines:

Up rose old Barbara Frietchie then,
Bowed with her fourscore years and ten;

Bravest of all in Frederick town,
She took up the flag the men hauled down;

In her attic window the staff she set,
To show that one heart was loyal yet.

Up the street came the rebel tread,
Stonewall Jackson riding ahead.

Under his slouched hat left and right
He glanced: the old flag met his sight.

“Halt!”— the dust-brown ranks stood fast.
“Fire!”— out blazed the rifle-blast.

It shivered the window, pane and sash;
It rent the banner with seam and gash.

Quick, as it fell, from the broken staff
Dame Barbara snatched the silken scarf;

She leaned far out on the window-sill,
And shook it forth with a royal will.

“Shoot, if you must, this old gray head,
But spare your country’s flag,” she said.

A shade of sadness, a blush of shame,
Over the face of the leader came;

The nobler nature within him stirred
To life at that woman’s deed and word:

“Who touches a hair of yon gray head
Dies like a dog! March on!” he said.

Read those stirring lines in full here.

Would that a majority of us could take a stand for a better future not based solely on our perceived best self-interests!

And that will require voters to opt for honor, integrity and the guts to stop as a first step kissing the ring of a convicted felon.

Barbara Frietchie BY JOHN GREENLEAF WHITTIER

Up from the meadows rich with corn,
Clear in the cool September morn,

The clustered spires of Frederick stand
Green-walled by the hills of Maryland.

Round about them the orchards sweep,
Apple and peach tree fruited deep,

Fair as the garden of the Lord
To the eyes of the famished rebel horde,

On that pleasant morn of the early fall
When Lee marched over the mountain-wall;

Over the mountains winding down,
Horse and foot, into Frederick town.

Forty flags with their silver stars,
Forty flags with their crimson bars,

Flapped in the morning wind: the sun
Of noon looked down, and saw not one.

Up rose old Barbara Frietchie then,
Bowed with her fourscore years and ten;

Bravest of all in Frederick town,
She took up the flag the men hauled down;

In her attic window the staff she set,
To show that one heart was loyal yet.

Up the street came the rebel tread,
Stonewall Jackson riding ahead.

Under his slouched hat left and right
He glanced; the old flag met his sight.

“Halt!” — the dust-brown ranks stood fast.
“Fire!” — out blazed the rifle-blast.

It shivered the window, pane, and sash;
It rent the banner with seam and gash.

Quick, as it fell, from the broken staff
Dame Barbara snatched the silken scarf.

She leaned far out on the window-sill,
And shook it forth with a royal will.

“Shoot, if you must, this old gray head,
But spare your country’s flag,” she said.

A shade of sadness, a blush of shame,
Over the face of the leader came;

The nobler nature within him stirred
To life at that woman’s deed and word;

“Who touches a hair of yon gray head
Dies like a dog! March on!” he said.

All day long through Frederick street
Sounded the tread of marching feet:

All day long that free flag tost
Over the heads of the rebel host.

Ever its torn folds rose and fell
On the loyal winds that loved it well;

And through the hill-gaps sunset light
Shone over it with a warm good-night.

Barbara Frietchie’s work is o’er,
And the Rebel rides on his raids no more.

Honor to her! and let a tear
Fall, for her sake, on Stonewall’s bier.

Over Barbara Frietchie’s grave,
Flag of Freedom and Union, wave!

Peace and order and beauty draw
Round thy symbol of light and law;

And ever the stars above look down
On thy stars below in Frederick town!

Former US Navy officer, banker and venture capitalist, Donald A. Collins, a free lance writer living in Washington, DC, has spent over 50 years working for women’s reproductive health as a board member and/or officer of numerous family planning organizations including Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Guttmacher Institute, Family Health International and Ipas. Yale under graduate, NYU MBA. He is the author of “From the Dissident Left: A Collection of Essays 2004-2013”, “Trump Becoming Macbeth: Will our democracy survive?”, “We Humans Overwhelm Our Earth: 11 or 2 Billion by 2100?”, “What Can Be Done Now to Save Habitable Life on Planet Earth?”, “Vote”, “Can Homo Sapiens Survive?”, “Will Choice and Democracy Win?”, “Can Our U.S. Survive 8 Plus Billion of Us”, “Economic Growth: A Cancer on all Earthly Life”, “On the Precipice of Political Disaster in 2024” and “Democracy at Red State Risk”.

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“Barbara Frietchie” John Greenleaf Whittier poem 1863 Stonewall Jackson, American flag Civil War

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