It's remarkable. There is a fundamental shift in America. There's a great article today in National Review about how we should have heeded the words Ronald Reagan delivered in his farewell speech. Throughout history, presidents have used their farewell addresses to warn future presidents and generations about threats they see to, among other things, the American way. There are three farewell addresses that I personally believe could have helped us avoid the trouble we're in now. I was so happy to see the National Review choose the same three.
The first came from George Washington. In Washington's Farewell Address, he warned about political parties and having loyalty to them above country. He said that would kill us in the end, as well as foreign entanglements.
George Washington wrote his remarks, but he never actually delivered them personally. Instead, he sent his Farewell Address to the newspapers for publication.
Once upon a time, Americans had to study his Farewell Address, memorize it. There were three documents that students had to study --- the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence and George Washington's Farewell Address. Up until about 1920, his Farewell Address was studied by every generation. You couldn't pass the eighth grade unless you knew it.
Nowadays, most people have never even read Washington's Farewell Address, let alone heard of it. It's one of the best documents in American history, and it shows where we've gone wrong.
Dwight D. Eisenhower
The second was Dwight D. Eisenhower's Farewell Radio and Television Address to the American People. Eisenhower warned about the military-industrial complex. He warned that if we don't watch what's happening with the Pentagon and the military, they would get us involved in everything and spend us into oblivion, causing all kinds of foreign entanglements. I think this was the most risky, yet totally honest warning any president has ever given us.
Eisenhower was the winning general of World War II, the Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces. He grew up in the military, was a fan of the military, and he saw a change in the 1950s because of the Cold War. He realized we weren't going to descale or de-escalate.
Up until World War II and then Korea in the 1950s, we would call an army together to go fight. Our army before World War II was literally training with broomsticks. We didn't even have enough guns. People would bring their own guns from home to train. We had a civilian army. That's the way we always were: Hey, there's a war coming. Let's all get together and train.
In the 1950s, the world changed because of nuclear war. Everyone realized we could all be dead in 12 minutes. With nuclear weapons at the ready, we had to have to have a standing army. We had to have a military-industrial complex that was building and researching the latest technology for war.
In his Farewell Address, Eisenhower warned America we would no longer be sending these people home to the private sector. They were now permanent, professional fixtures within the military. And as with everything, unless they were monitored, they would grow in power and lead us around on a leash.
Here was a general saying beware the military-industrial complex, beware the collusion between the military and the capitalist companies that are going to get rich off of those military sales. That was extraordinarily brave.
And what happened? Mostly kooks listened to it. The vast military-industrial complex became a joke, a conspiracy theory. I don't think that was by happenstance. I think it was people in the military-industrial complex turning it into a joke. "Oh, I know you got to be careful of the black helicopters." Well, yeah, you kind of do. It could get out of control, as George Washington said.
Only those with a healthy respect for fire and what it is and what it does and how out of control it could be should be tending the fire. That's all that Eisenhower was saying. If you don't have a healthy respect for what capitalism and the military can do, you shouldn't be tending to it.
And then there was the third one, from Ronald Reagan, one that I think was misunderstood. We were so fat and sassy at the time, that I don't think anybody really listened to it. I want to share about five paragraphs of the Reagan's Farewell Address to the Nation:
Finally, there is a great tradition of warnings in Presidential farewells, and I've got one that's been on my mind for some time. But oddly enough it starts with one of the things I'm proudest of in the past 8 years: the resurgence of national pride that I called the new patriotism. This national feeling is good, but it won't count for much, and it won't last unless it's grounded in thoughtfulness and knowledge.
Did you hear that? National pride is good, but it doesn't count for anything unless it is grounded in kindness and knowledge.
I contend we have neither of those right now, on any side, that our national dialogue is not grounded in knowledge, certainly not kindness. Who are you hearing talk about real issues, the ones that face you, and real solutions? Who are you hearing talk about real solutions with kindness and with knowledge? How many of us are responding back with knowledge or kindness? Ronald Reagan said it won't account for much, unless it's coupled with those two things.
An informed patriotism is what we want. And are we doing a good enough job teaching our children what America is and what she represents in the long history of the world?
That's a question. That's a question, and you can answer that question now. You couldn't answer it then. Are we doing a good enough job of teaching our children the history of America? I believe my parents probably said yes. And if I were a parent back then, I'd say yes. If I were a parent in 2000, I'd say, well, kind of, pretty much. If I were a parent in 2008, I would say, well, it's kind of bad. If I'm a parent in 2017? Look at the failure. We didn't even see how rotted this system has become. You can get your doctorate in history at maybe 90 percent of colleges nationwide and not be required to take any American history. How can you have your degree in world history without taking any American history? That doesn't make sense. That's like saying your an expert in world history, but you didn't study England or Rome. How is that possible? If that's the case then you're not a world historian. You might be a historian on Asia and the Middle East, but that's only part of the world.
Those of us who are over 35 or so years of age grew up in a different America. We were taught, very directly, what it means to be an American. And we absorbed, almost in the air, a love of country and an appreciation of its institutions. If you didn't get these things from your family you got them from the neighborhood, from the father down the street who fought in Korea or the family who lost someone at Anzio. Or you could get a sense of patriotism from school. And if all else failed you could get a sense of patriotism from the popular culture. The movies celebrated democratic values and implicitly reinforced the idea that America was special. TV was like that, too, through the mid-sixties.
He's getting ready to leave office in 1989, saying we used to have this in popular culture. Go back in popular culture in 1989, and it's practically Uncle Sam pants compared to now. Think about what culture is like now. Remember, entertainment creates culture, but culture creates values. Our culture back then was creating values that were good, kind, gentle, strong, American. Our entertainment is none of those things now. What are the values being mined and minted right now in our culture? They are not what we grew up with, and he was my president when I was a teenager.
But now, we're about to enter the nineties, and some things have changed. Younger parents aren't sure that an unambivalent appreciation of America is the right thing to teach modern children. And as for those who create the popular culture, well-grounded patriotism is no longer the style. Our spirit is back, but we haven't reinstitutionalized it. We've got to do a better job of getting across that America is freedom-freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of enterprise. And freedom is special and rare. It's fragile; it needs protection.
So, we've got to teach history based not on what's in fashion but what's important-why the Pilgrims came here, who Jimmy Doolittle was, and what those 30 seconds over Tokyo meant.
You know, 4 years ago on the 40th anniversary of D-day, I read a letter from a young woman writing to her late father, who'd fought on Omaha Beach. Her name was Lisa Zanatta Henn, and she said, "we will always remember, we will never forget what the boys of Normandy did." Well, let's help her keep her word.
It's an amazing call to arms and one that needs to be heard again and answered again.
I want to bring you along for a ride that we're going to take because we are going to answer that call --- in a different way.
Listen to this segment from The Glenn Beck Program:
Editor’s Note: The following is based on an excerpt from The Glenn Beck Program on June 21, 2017.