“Borrowing” a speech or two … Part 2 of 2

Yesterday, I provided a look at George Washington’s Newburgh Address as we prepare to celebrate the birth of our nation.  That was a time when America was in its infancy, and it easily could have crumbled.

It could have crumbled under the threat of insurrection, with Continental Army officers hearing from Philadelphia that the American government was going broke and that they might not be compensated for their service.

Washington was a sly fox, pulling them together with a surprise move and winning them over with a simple statement that showed just how much he gave for this new nation himself.

That was a turning point in America.  It took wisdom.  It took courage, a real act of boldness.

If we look deeply enough, we can see some parallels between then and now.  There’s another period of time in American history that could be seen as a parallel between then and now, and it was a turning point as well.

The year was 1936.  America had experienced the Great Depression.  Times were hard.  Families had a hard time making ends meet.  Boldness was needed.  It took courage for a President on the campaign trail to effectively look his enemies in the eye and say, “I welcome their hatred.”

The words came from a President intent on turning a nation around — an entire nation — not just a particular class of its people.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt, 1933. Lietuvių: Fra...
Franklin Delano Roosevelt, 1933. Lietuvių: Franklinas Delanas Ruzveltas (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“For twelve years our nation was afflicted with hear-nothing, see-nothing, do-nothing government.  The nation looked to that government, but that government looked away.  Nine mocking years with the golden calf and three long years of the scourge!  Nine crazy years at the ticker and three long years in the breadlines!  Nine mad years of mirage and three long years of despair!  And my friends, powerful influences strive today to restore that kind of government with its doctrine that that Government is best which is most indifferent to mankind.

“For nearly four years now you have had an Administration which instead of twirling its thumbs has rolled up its sleeves.  And I can assure you that we will keep our sleeves rolled up.

“We had to struggle with the old enemies of peace — business and financial monopoly, speculation, reckless banking, class antagonism, sectionalism, war profiteering.

“They had begun to consider the government of the United States as a mere appendage to their own affairs.  We know now that government by organized money is just as dangerous as government by organized mob.

“Never before in all our history have these forces been so united against one candidate as they stand today.  They are unanimous in their hate for me, and I welcome their hatred.” — Franklin Delano Roosevelt, 1936 campaign speech, Madison Square Garden, New York City

Sound familiar?

As this nation faces another turning point, is there a leader out there with the same kind of courage today?


My music playlist for today (July 3, 2012 edition)

As we move a day closer to celebrating the birth of America, the music playlist continues to celebrate as well.

There are plenty of Americans who have made great jazz-fusion musicians, and it’s pretty hard to feature just one based on citizenship.  The next step for me in narrowing down the choices is to look at album titles.

Cover of "American Garage"
Cover of Pat Metheny Group’s album “American Garage”

That brings me to the Pat Metheny Group.  I’ve featured them here before with the album “Offramp,” but I’ll feature them again today with the album “American Garage.”

From the cover photo of the Airstream trailers to the photo on the back of the group looking like your typical garage band (and being in actuality anything but your typical garage band) down to the title of the first song, “(Cross The) Heartland” — and the feel of that first song, like you’re driving down a highway with nothing but open sky and freedom in front of you — well, that’s America.