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In Defense of Patriotism

By Staff | Nov 27, 2019

Sixteen former students of speaker Robert Webster at Hughesville High School classes from 1959-1975 attended Webster's presentation on Patriotism recently during the Christian Women's gathering at Tivoli UM Church. They included (front, l-r): Kenneth Homes, Shirley Taggart Glidewell, Dusty Miller Confer, Joyce Lundy Rhodes, Susan Braster, Deb Newcomer Sterensky. Row 2: Mr. Webster, Kay Walters Moore, Joyce Rupert Long, Barbara Watts McPheron, Keith Wallis. Row 3: Cindy Gardner, Ann Sheets Wallis, Carol Ritter Mordan, Deb Fox Stackhouse, JoAnn Puderbach Easton. (Not in photo, Carol Sones Shetler).

TIVOLI – “The definition of patriotism is the love a person has and feels for one’s country,” explained Robert Webster, who spoke at a recent gathering of Christian Women at Tivoli UM Church, Nov. 7.

To the 55 attendees he said, “Right now, the U.S. is divided with anger and hate similar to the time of the Civil War.”

At age 91, the former teacher and historian said he would not think of living anywhere else, and went on to give examples of what America has done.

“America is attractive, legal and illegal, people want to come here. We’ve always been there to help with anything we could do. Here, there is no better lifestyle of homes and food,” Webster said.

In size, the speaker named Russia, maybe Canada and China as possibly larger. Three sides of the country are surrounded by water making it perfect for trade. “With Canada, we have the longest undefended border in the world. We’re in the northern temperate climate zone with natural resources and farms that keep our people well-fed. We have clean water, not all countries have that; nature has been kind to America. Could it be possible someone has favored our country?” he asked.

After quoting lines from the Constitution and Lincoln’s Gettysburg address Webster said,” I feel God meant for us to be free; it is why our country exists. We acknowledge and believe in Almighty God, the same God who created us. As children, we’re entitled to truthfulness, love, integrity, honesty and helping others, entitled to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Don’t ever believe in anything else,” he admonished.

In instances of belief in a higher power’s help, Webster said, “No way should we have won the Revolutionary War. We had no army, no leader, no way should we have beat England, but we did.”

He went on to say, “The writing of the Constitution is a fine example of what a country could be. In that and within the Bill of Rights, nowhere does it say anyone can take over our country. In Lincoln’s speech, considered one of the finest pieces of writing, the President said, ‘This nation, under God, shall not perish from the earth.’ “

After becoming a nation, the speaker identified America’s first big test as the Civil War, where on home battlegrounds, 600,000, all Americans, died.

According to Webster, “Getting into World War I with 120,000 deaths, was repaying France for helping us in the Revolution. Fighting two wars at once was what happened during World War II. In the Pacific, Atlantic, North Africa and more when during 45 months, 400,000 Americans died.”

Recently when Webster heard places at our southern border referred to as ‘death camps,’ it was difficult for him to believe. “I had visited the Dachau death camp while chaperoning 42 Hughesville High School juniors and seniors to Europe. With one hundred percent parental consent, we stood in the gas chamber and looked into the furnaces. Surrounding the camp were double walls patrolled by soldiers with dogs; also towers staffed with machine gun armed soldiers. I’ve not been to the southern border, but I was to a real death camp,” said the speaker.

The historian listed local persons who had given the ultimate sacrifice. “I lived next door to the Trick family where recently remains of their son James were returned home. As students, I knew Shawn Thomas and Chad Michael. Shawn visited to chat in my [class] room during free periods. We’ve paid an awful price,” Webster said.

Loss of life in Vietnam was said to be 50,000 and during the 1960s another 50,000 in Cambodia and Laos. Add to that ‘Desert Storm’ and the attack on America on Sept. 11, 2001.”I don’t want to hear complaints about our country, the problem is not the country, the problem is the people,” he said.

In addition to military helping others without freedom, Webster listed aid of our citizenry during countries ravaged by hurricanes such as Puerto Rico, trapped miners in northern Chile; in Indonesia’s earthquake and sunami where 3,000 Americans picked up bodies on the beaches. “We have the inherit qualities of God, a helping hand, that is what America is,” said Webster.

The speaker added, “When things got tough, we didn’t take off in caravans to somewhere else, we get down to work and help ourselves. In the 1930s 25 percent of the workforce were without jobs. What is it now, three percent? Projects put into place back then included the WPA, the PWA, the REA and the CCC. A local example of work by the WPA was libraries and an auditorium built at the university in Lock Haven. The REA built hydroelectric plants, in 1929 only ten percent of farm families had electricity. The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) cleared and planted forests and built roads. The Social Security Administration was set up to collect savings during one’s work life, a much appreciated benefit in our house.”

More improvements for America was, “The fabulous fifties, a decade whichtotally changed living and industry. Houses couldn’t be built fast enough. World War II veterans returned to buy a home, start a family and buy a car. How many in dozens of other countries would like a regular home like we have?” he asked.

A few industries Webster named as born since the 1900s was General Electric, Firestone, Swift & CO, and General Motors. In 1958, jet aircraft came into being, fluoride was discovered, drugs to cure diseases, the first organ transplant and landing on the moon.

Webster put forth for thought, “People can’t do what America does. Are we favored? We acknowledge and give credit to our Creator; that of heaven and earth, and we who are made in His image. This is what America is!” Webster concluded.