State of the Union messages are typically a laundry list of promises seeking to pander to various constituencies with little philosophical cohesion. Donald Trump’s first State of the Union speech broke this rule.
Rather than a policy focused speech, the President chose to emphasize the triumph of the American spirit and the costs of failure to protect American interests. Surprisingly the highlight of the evening could not be experienced by anyone who failed to watch, as a North Korean who escaped after losing his legs to amputation stood, raising his old crutches in triumph over his head in defiance of those who would keep people in chains. This simple unrehearsed, spontaneous act did more to emblemize the President’s speech and indeed his presidency than any words ever could. One man standing up for freedom and dedicating his life to bring the message of hope to the people of North Korea from his home in Seoul, South Korea.
All State of the Union speeches feature various people with compelling stories, and this was no different. But the stories told the message that the President wanted delivered. From the boy from Redding, California who started a movement to put flags on the graves of veterans that now has covered 40,000 gravesites to the heroic bronze star awardee who saved his fellow warriors life in the most dire of danger and circumstances, patriotism was restored and honored.
The Albuquerque police officer who provided hope to an addicted pregnant woman who wanted her soon to be born baby to have a chance in life by offering to adopt her, naming her Hope, to the firefighter who saved sixty people from a raging inferno that had surrounded their summer camp in California and the Houston hero who saved forty people from the devastation of the flooding from Hurricane Harvey, the courage and goodness of America were exalted.
And yes, the devastation of two sets of parents who lost their little girls at the hands of the MS-13 scourge that is plaguing all to many communities including Long Island, where Attorney General Jeff Sessions has declared war on the ruthless gang, and the still grief stricken parents of Otto Warmbier who was detained in North Korea, jailed, beaten and returned back to America only to die a few days after his return from his mistreatment served as stark reminders that evil exists and it must be opposed.
While the speech talked of immigration issues, veterans’ affairs and infrastructure and defense spending, the soaring reminder of the power of the American spirit and the allure of the American dream were the pillars it was built upon.
The President spoke of an America where factories are returning and forging “fair and reciprocal” trade relationships abroad. He spoke of an America where African-American and Hispanic unemployment rates are at historic lows and hope is increasing where little existed before. He talked about a revitalized America with wages rising, taxes lowering and jobs are returning. A place where dependency is being replaced by dignity, and a place where neighbors help neighbors not because someone tells them to, but because it is the right thing to do. He spoke of an America which puts its compassion for its neighbors around the world into action, but won’t be taken for a fool by those who work against its interests.
Donald Trump gave America a vision for the future. While congressional Democrats sat on their hands at the news that our nation’s minority communities are getting job opportunities unlike any time in history, the neighborhoods that are being transformed through simple work and the worth it provides will be the testament to our nation’s economic growth. Those who talk incessantly about people who are left behind, could not rise to acknowledge that fewer found themselves in these adverse circumstances than a year ago.
President Trump ended the State of the Union with the following words that each American, young, middle aged or older; black, white, Hispanic or Asian; no matter what church, if any you attend, should take as a clarion call for our nation’s future:
“Americans fill the world with art and music. They push the bounds of science and discovery. And they forever remind us of what we should never forget: The people dreamed this country. The people built this country. And it is the people who are making it great again. As long as we have confidence in our values, faith in our citizens and trust in our God, we will not fail. Our families will thrive. Our people will prosper. And our nation will forever be safe and strong and proud and mighty and free. Thank you and God Bless America.”
As cheers of U-S-A, U-S-A, U-S-A could be heard from many members of Congress it was clear that President Donald Trump spoke to America’s heart and her people’s highest ideals rather than pandering to their lowest interests. And he challenged Congress to come together with him to help meet them.