It all began in Charleston

To the editor,

Recently my wife and I “got away” from election madness to visit one the 13 colonies where American freedom all began, Charleston, South Carolina.

It was here too where the cannons that routed the British fleet in the Revolutionary War later leveled federal Fort Sumter, igniting our Civil War that ultimately created a “more perfect union,” one that included all races and classes of Americans.

We were reminded of all this when, with a boat load of tourists, we helped to raise the Stars and Stripes over battered remains of Fort Sumter in the Charleston harbor. Later, walking the decks of the aircraft carrier Yorktown and the destroyer Laffey, moored across the harbor reminded us that every generation eventually has to pay the high price of liberty. Our fathers had to build these ships after much of our ill-prepared fleet, including the original Yorktown and Laffey, had been shot to pieces during the early years of World War II.

When we climbed into the Laffey’s aft gun battery, a video appeared, conveying the last desperate minutes of that gun crew’s battle against a swarm of more than 20 suicide bombers that ambushed their lone ship. The video abruptly ended with a kamikaze direct hit, Yet this valiant “ship that would not die,” fought on, even after at least five such direct hits. It then limped home to be refitted for service in our next war, the Korean War.

Shifting from heroism of a past generation to the present, I wondered whether the peeling paint of these legendary ships signifies our present republic, too demoralized to honor its own history, incapable even of securing its own streets and defending its own borders.

Later we followed our noses to a Chick-fil-A for lunch, interestingly located directly across from the parade ground on the campus of The Citadel. Here our mood lifted. Watching the “knobs” drill on the parade ground, we realized that the love of liberty has not died in the hearts of these young men and women, many whose families have lived here for generations, others who have fled here from around the world to escape almost universal tyranny.

This trip to Charleston reminded us that the political battles being waged across this country are not a violent revolution or civil war, but a revival—a revival of the old principles of liberty that brought the 13 colonies together so long ago. Our present political ferment is a sign of hope that what happened in Charleston did not stay in Charleston.

Art DeJong


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