Commentary

November 21, 2012

Commentary: Thankfulness and an oak tree

Commentary by Senior Airman Jarad A. Denton
633rd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

JOINT BASE LANGLEY-EUSTIS, Va. — What are you thankful for? The question followed me the entire, extended weekend, as I struggled to write this article. It followed me as I made my way through the historic sites of Virginia.

The air was unseasonably warm for November, as I walked through the remnants of Jamestown, Va. – America’s first permanent English colony. The ground crunched beneath my feet as my shoes pressed into sand, dirt and stone that had seen the likes of such historical figures as John Smith, John Rolfe and Pocahontas.

As I weaved my way between brick foundations which had once been homes, my eyes caught sight of an oak tree that seemed strangely out of place. It was a live oak, dedicated June 15, 1965 to mark the 750th Anniversary of the sealing of the Magna Carta.

It seemed strange that a tree would be planted at Jamestown to honor a document written in a country which unsuccessfully tried to squash our own pursuit of freedom. However, during the American Revolution, the Magna Carta acted as both an inspiration and a justification for the defense of liberty.

It was June 15, 1215 in a field at Runnymeade, England when King John pressed his seal into a document that would change the world forever. Written by a group of rebellious barons, the document sought to protect their rights and property against a tyrannical king.

“No freeman shall be taken, imprisoned, disseised, outlawed, banished, or in any way destroyed, nor will We proceed against or prosecute him, except by the lawful judgment of his peers and by the law of the land,” the document stated. “To no one will We sell, to no one will We deny or delay, right or justice.”

Similarly, the colonists, who had etched their mark into America from humble beginnings, believed and demanded the same rights as Englishmen. These rights, which were guaranteed in the Magna Carta, were later drafted into the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Centuries later, the Magna Carta is still regarded as one of the most important legal documents in the history of democracy.

“The democratic aspiration is no mere recent phase in human history,” said President Franklin D. Roosevelt during his 1941 Inaugural address. “It was written in the Magna Carta.”

The Magna Carta was more than just our history, I thought as I enjoyed the shade the oak provided. It could not be left to wither and turn to dust in the wind, especially during a month when people began looking into the things they were thankful for. This was more than our history – it was our identity. For a mere 180 years after Jamestown was founded in 1607, and some 300 miles north, a group of men came together inside the State House at Philadelphia to revise the Articles of Confederation.

From those articles, through a series of discussions and debates, an entirely new government was formed – with the Constitution as its guiding light.

“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America,” the document states in its opening lines.

While some of its framers regarded the Constitution as far from perfect, they did recognize the importance of its existence – if not the effect it would have on the world and generations to come.

“I confess that there are several parts of this constitution which I do not at present approve, but I am not sure I shall never approve them,” wrote Benjamin Franklin in a speech he wished to give prior to the signing of the Constitution’s final draft. “In these sentiments, Sir, I agree to this Constitution with all its faults, if they are such; because I think a general Government necessary for us…”

An imperfect document for an imperfect world; but, from its pages came the birth of a nation that would idealize the principles of a democratic society. As I moved on from the oak tree, I realized what I was most thankful for this holiday season.

I was thankful for liberty. I was thankful for freedom. I was thankful for the sacrifices made by countless people throughout hundreds of years to lead us to the point where I could walk freely across the land and appreciate the rich history behind it. I was thankful for those who came before me who contributed to the shaping of this nation.

But, most importantly, I was thankful for America.




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 

Local Briefs July 2, 2015

Sunset Horseback Ride August 8, 4 – 8 p.m. – Outdoor Rec Saddle up and enjoy a 2-hour sunset horseback ride through the Saguaro National Park. Single Airmen can sign-up beginning July 6. All others may sign-up beginning July 13. Final deadline is July 31. Minimum age: 18. Cost of $25/person. Call 228-3736 for more...
 
 
(U.S. Air Force photos by Airman 1st Class Chris Massey)

F-15E Strike Eagle students complete training at D-M

Student pilots from Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, N.C., have been training here since June 17. Fourteen F-15E Strike Eagles from the 334th Fighter Squadron, as well as pilots and Weapons Systems Officers came to D-M to com...
 
 

D-M’s Fourth of July Celebration

For July 4, D-M is scheduled to hold a few evening events to celebrate the holiday. Shuttles for the fireworks are scheduled to start running at 5:30 p.m. from Heritage Park, the Sonoran Science Academy and Borman Elementary School. Pre-firework events are slated to begin at 6 p.m. at Bama Park featuring live music by...
 

 

Giving life through the Living Donor Program

  As Airmen, it is our responsibility to help each other, as well as our civilian counterparts from day to day. But what if the need was greater than something as simple as a ride to work? What if it was as great as a kidney donation? Located in Sacramento, Calif., The University of California...
 
 

Balancing career, family through career intermission program

  KADENA AIR BASE, Japan (AFNS) — Being in the U.S. military can be a tough balance between career and family. For some, it comes down to a choice between the two; however, for Katie Evans, a temporarily separated captain and the former 18th Force Support Squadron manpower and personnel flight commander here, it’s about...
 
 

One AWACS lands at D-M for Boneyard Storage

One NATO E-3A AWACS (Airborne Warning and Control System) departed NATO Air Base Geilenkirchen, Germany and landed around 1 p.m. June 23, for storage in the ‘Boneyard’. This is the first ever NATO AWACS to be retired. The decision to retire one E-3A was made by the North Atlantic Council in an effort to modernize the...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>