Shall It Be Sustained?

As a July 4th tradition, I’ve posted an excerpt from Stephen Vincent Benet’s poem Listen to the People.  The title I originally used for these posts was It Shall Be Sustained, which is from the last line of Benet’s poem.


This is Independence Day,
Fourth of July, the day we mean to keep,
Whatever happens and whatever falls
Out of a sky grown strange;
This is firecracker day for sunburnt kids,
The day of the parade,
Slambanging down the street.
Listen to the parade!
There’s J. K. Burney’s float,
Red-white-and-blue crepe-paper on the wheels,
The Fire Department and the local Grange,
There are the pretty girls with their hair curled
Who represent the Thirteen Colonies,
The Spirit of East Greenwich, Betsy Ross,
Democracy, or just some pretty girls.
There are the veterans and the Legion Post
(Their feet are going to hurt when they get home),
The band, the flag, the band, the usual crowd,
Good-humored, watching, hot,
Silent a second as the flag goes by,
Kidding the local cop and eating popsicles,
Jack Brown and Rosie Shapiro and Dan Shay,
Paul Bunchick and the Greek who runs the Greek’s,
The black-eyed children out of Sicily,
The girls who giggle and the boys who push,
All of them there and all of them a nation.
And, afterwards,
There’ll be ice-cream and fireworks and a speech
By somebody the Honorable Who,
The lovers will pair off in the kind dark
And Tessie Jones, our honor-graduate,
Will read the declaration.
That’s how it is. It’s always been that way.
That’s our Fourth of July, through war and peace,
That’s our fourth of July.

And a lean farmer on a stony farm
Came home from mowing, buttoned up his shirt
And walked ten miles to town.
Musket in hand.
He didn’t know the sky was falling down
And, it may be, he didn’t know so much.
But people oughtn’t to be pushed around
By kings or any such.
A workman in the city dropped his tools.
An ordinary, small-town kind of man
Found himself standing in the April sun,
One of a ragged line
Against the skilled professionals of war,
The matchless infantry who could not fail,
Not for the profit, not to conquer worlds,
Not for the pomp or the heroic tale
But first, and principally, since he was sore.
They could do things in quite a lot of places.
They shouldn’t do them here, in Lexington.

He looked around and saw his neighbors’ faces

The poem is very long, and is worth reading in full. The full text was published in Life Magazine; it is online here. The Life text may be a little difficult to read; I posted an excerpt which is considerably longer than the above here.

Benet’s poem ends with these words:

We made it and we make it and it’s ours
We shall maintain it. It shall be sustained

But shall it?


The probability that the American experiment will survive has seemed, over recent years, to have been on the decline.  And this year. there are many disturbing headlines…for example:

In Arizona, “F*** the Fourth” was the official July 4 message from the Pima County Democratic Party.

In California, a school board member called for July 4th boycott.

The city of Orlando, Florida apologized for a fireworks promo it had sent out, saying that people “probably” don’t want to celebrate because America is full of “hate,” and adding “we can’t blame them.”

And, after 30 years. NPR…a network that does receive some level of taxpayer funding…cancelled its annual Declaration of Independence reading.

I keep thinking of the words of the British general Edward Spears, describing his feelings in the aftermath of Munich:

Like most people, I have had my private sorrows, but there is no loss that can compare with the agony of losing one’s country, and that is what some of us felt when England accepted Munich.  All we believed in seemed to have lost substance.

The life of each of us has roots without which it must wither; these derive sustenance from the soil of our native land, its thoughts, its way of life, its magnificent history; the lineage of the British race is our inspiration.  The past tells us what the future should be.  When we threw the Czechs to the Nazi wolves, it seemed to me as if the beacon lit centuries ago, and ever since lighting our way, had suddenly gone out, and I could not see ahead.

Yet it was only two years after Munich that Britain demonstrated its  magnificent resistance to Nazi conquest. Perhaps the United States of America will similarly rediscover its spirit.

There are indeed some hopeful signs.  Numerous individuals have shown courage in standing up against the Cancellers.  Parents in many states are now asking pointed questions about what has really been going on in their schools.   The consequences of extreme Left prosecutors and ‘defund the police’ are making themselves clear.

For inspiration, here is a Harvard student who dared to criticize pervasive anti-Americanism in her senior speech.

25 thoughts on “Shall It Be Sustained?”

  1. We spent the day at the military recreation facility at Canyon Lake … it was lovely: a placid lake, full of boats. Families with children on the small beach in a little cove, wading out to the deeper part next to a floating dock, setting off on floatees, and playing in the shallows. People setting up pop-up pavilions and umbrellas, enjoying a day in the sun. It seemed actually cooler at the Lake than in San Antonio.
    It was so lovely, a day away from all the horribleness going on.

  2. Careful there, David. Some people who post here think the Brits (and US) were fools to oppose Hitler at any time, and all he ever wanted was a fair shake.

  3. Careful there, David. Some people who post here think the Brits (and US) were fools to oppose Hitler at any time, and all he ever wanted was a fair shake.

    Please name these commenters. I haven’t managed to discern any pro-Hitler commentary here thus I eagerly await enlightenment.

    Unless…Nooo!! Not the people who aren’t all-in for the Iraq- Oops, I mean the Ukraine war!

    In any case, name names.

    Let us know who these pro-Hitler commenters are.

    I’ll check back.

  4. Can it be sustained?
    It would take a miracle.
    And despite Bismarck’s famous quote, I’m not sure Providence is looking out for us anymore.

    Happy 4th to all, anyway. May we all do our part to ensure many more. That’s all we can ever do.

  5. “A republic if we can keep it.”
    Well there is both good news and bad news.

    The good news is that Russia, short of a nuclear exchange, is no longer a military power of any import. What the war in Ukraine has done is to demonstrate the hollow shell the Russian Army had become without anybody noticing. Ukraine still has suffering to endure but it’s clear that Russia no longer has the means to credibly threaten anyone else. The answer to the nuclear threat, unfortunately, has to remain the same it’s been for the last 70 odd years. Although, even here, the idea Russian strategic forces have somehow remained chastely immaculate from the corruption that has rotted the rest of the country lacks credibility.

    The more I see, the more convinced I am that China will soon be engrossed in another of their cataclysmic convulsions. Complete with famine and widespread civil chaos. This will have some inconvenient side effects here but I expect we will carry on. While I have nothing but sympathy for the Chinese suffering now with much more and worse to come, I can see no way that outside intervention can prevent or ameliorate what’s to come.

    There seem to be a dismaying number of Americans in favor of imprisoning or otherwise sanctioning those they disagree with. That may be receding. I note with some optimism that Ilhan Omar was booed of the stage at a concert where the great majority of the audience was also Somali.

    I am moderately optimistic although I see serious challenges ahead. Time, as always, will tell.

  6. Russia and China have absolutely nothing to do with whether we can keep our Republic. Though if we conservatives could embrace Ike and his farewell address and destroy that military industrial complex that we used to laugh at liberals for whining about–since after all, if Russia poses no threat, what do we need to worry about?–it would go a long way towards ensuring we thrive far into the future…

  7. An Inconvenient Holiday
    By Vin Suprynowicz
    JULY 4, 2000

    Most Americans should be ashamed to celebrate the Fourth
    What an inconvenient holiday the Fourth of July has become.

    So long as we stick to grilling hot dogs and hamburgers, hauling the kids to the lake or the mountains, and winding up the day watching the fireworks as the Boston Pops plays the “1812” — written by a subject of the czar to celebrate the defeat of our vital ally the French — we can usually manage to convince ourselves we still cling to the same values that made July 4, 1776, a date that continues to ring in history.

    Great Britain taxed the colonists at far lower rates than Americans tolerate today — and never dreamed of granting government agents the power to search our private bank records to locate “unreported income,” nor to haul away our children to some mandatory, government-run propaganda camp, doping up the most spirited youths on Luvox or Ritalin. Nor did the king’s ministers ever attempt to stack our juries by disqualifying any juror who refused to swear in advance to leave their conscience outside and enforce the law as the judge explained it to them.

    The king’s ministers insisted the colonists were represented by Members of Parliament who had never set foot on these shores. Today, of course, our interests are “represented” by one of two millionaire lawyers — both members of the incumbent Republicrat Party — between whom we were privileged to “choose” last election day, men who for the most part have lived in mansions and sent their kids to private schools in the wealthy suburbs of the imperial capital for decades.

    Yet the colonists did rebel. It’s hard to imagine, today, the faith and courage of a few hundred frozen musketmen, setting off across the darkened Delaware, gambling their lives and farms on the chance they could engage and defeat the greatest land army in the history of the known world, armed with only two palpable assets: one irreplaceable man to lead them, and some flimsy newspaper reprints of a parchment declaring: “We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness — That to secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among men, deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed, that whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive to these Ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or abolish it. …”

    Do we believe that, still?

    Recently, President Clinton’s then-Drug Czar, Lee Brown, told me the role of government is to protect people from dangers, such as drugs. I corrected him, saying, “No, the role of government is to protect our liberties.”

    “We’ll just have to disagree on that,” the president’s appointee said.

    The War for American Independence began over unregistered untaxed guns, when British forces attempted to seize arsenals of rifles, powder, and ball from the hands of ill-organized Patriot militias in Lexington and Concord. American civilians shot and killed scores of those government agents as they marched back to Boston. Are those Minutemen still our heroes? Or do we now consider them “dangerous terrorists” and “depraved government-haters”?

    In Phoenix last week, an air-conditioner repairman and former military policeman named Chuck Knight was convicted by jurors — some tearful — who said they had no choice under the judge’s instructions, on a single federal conspiracy count of associating with others who owned automatic rifles on which they had failed to pay the $200 transfer tax. This was after a trial in which defense attorney Ivan Abrams says he was forbidden to bring up the Second Amendment as a defense.

    In The Federalist No. 29, James Madison sought to assuage the fears of anti-federalists who worried the proposed new government might someday take away our freedoms:

    “If circumstances should at any time oblige the government to form an army of any magnitude,” he wrote, “that army can never be formidable to the liberties of the people while there is a large body of citizens, little if at all inferior to them in discipline and the use of arms, who stand ready to defend their rights and those of their fellow citizens.”

    Any such encroachments by government would “provoke plans of resistance,” Mr. Madison continued in The Federalist No. 46, and “an appeal to a trial of force,” made possible by “the advantage of being armed, which the Americans possess over the people of almost every other nation.”

    Were Arizona’s Viper Militia readying plans of resistance, as recommended by Mr. Madison? Would the Constitution ever have been ratified at all had Mr. Madison and his fellow federalists warned the citizens that such non-violent preparations would get their weapons seized and land them in jail for decades?

    Happy Fourth of July.

  8. China is the new colonial power in africa in every country except swaziland and south america except brazil and has influence in almost every aspect of our government

  9. ‘Does the flag still stand for freedom,’ querying back to lee greenwood, freedom is not granted by the government and really cant be trusted to guarantee it.

    Now is a technocrat secular despot worse than an sectarian one (george 111 or alexander 1st)

  10. I couldn’t care less about what China does in Africa. It’s not like they can do worse there than WTO/IMF/CIA, etc. Rumor is that Brandon’s going to remove Trump tariffs on China imminently, and claim it’s to fight inflation (which I thought was Putin’s fault?). That will make the entire crooked DC establishment happy, they hated them from the start.
    If Trump had any sense he’d shut up about the election, or at least tone it down 90% and make the focus on the more general fact that from the very beginning, even before he was elected, and then before he was in office, the entire establishment fought him unceasingly as he tried to work for the average American, and look how bad things are now that They are back in control. But the guy who ran in 2016 doesn’t seem to even exist anymore.

  11. Brian, I agree with you. Trump should be running those “Miss me yet?” ads that Bush ran. I agree with him that the election was stolen (but not that it was a “landslide” in his favor.) The Democrats and the oligarchs funding them did an excellent job of vote fraud. Absentee ballots were a brilliant idea and those should not be allowed without voter ID.

    Still, he has to have a message that applies now. Biden and crew have given him a surfeit of issues but he keeps on with his obsession about 2020. The worst recent example was his switching his endorsement from Mo Brooks, who said it’s time to move on from 2020, to the RINO who won the primary. I must get 15 texts a day from Trump people. I talked to my sister yesterday and she was complaining about the tone of the Trump messages. I agree, they are almost threatening. Not the way to ask for votes or money,

  12. Yes i thought abandoning brooks for britt is a foolish exercise but remember colorado!

  13. “What the war in Ukraine has done is to demonstrate the hollow shell the Russian Army had become without anybody noticing.”

    This is extremely funny. You have been watching the conflict on youtube obviously. Few things could be more useless, as its all propaganda. I could help, but you will believe what you will believe. ;)

    The use of almost 20% of the Russian forces, is what you see in Ukraine. The real problem they face is that the human shields, the Azov and Azov stiffened forces hold around themselves, are the people they came to liberate. So its difficult.

    As to the conflict as a competition, the Russians etc are about 10/1 in causalities and a great deal of the denazification has been completed. So at this point the Ukrainians are feeding untrained conscripts into many fights and they promptly surrender. As the Azov forces have been so depleted, a major reason for this war, the stiffening they provided is largely gone.

    The next bit will probably happen faster, although not taking causalities is still a priority. Just pounding them flat is much safer, once you separate the Azov etc garbage from their human shields.

    Once the Donbass is cleared, a few weeks, it will be on to Odessa.

  14. and the reason the bulovin cossacks were crushed were because they were allied with the swedes, get another eight track fingal,

  15. The impression I get with Trump is that he’ll give an hour interview, discuss the 2020 election for about 5 minutes- and the only thing that will be reported are his comments about the election.

    About Mo Brooks, you can’t just “move on” from the roiling catastrophe that is the manner that American elections are conducted any more than you fly away in your aircraft after slamming it into a mountain.

    At some point, if this continues, one side or another will simply refuse to abide by election results. Leftists already believe any election they lose is illegitimate and the right is catching up.

    My guess is that Trump dumped Mo Brooks because he concluded rightly or wrongly that Brooks would accept the continued status quo.

  16. “The impression I get with Trump is that he’ll give an hour interview, discuss the 2020 election for about 5 minutes- and the only thing that will be reported are his comments about the election.”
    This is very possible. I remember in 2016 “news” stories said all he ever talked about was immigration, then watching a local rally he did and 90% of what he talked about was trade, and we know that the media is even more rabid and insane now…

    “At some point, if this continues, one side or another will simply refuse to abide by election results. Leftists already believe any election they lose is illegitimate and the right is catching up.”
    The most important thing right now needs to be getting GOP governors in as many as possible of PA, MI, WI, GA, and AZ. Those were all Dems or GOPe in 2020 and that was the difference. The margin of fraud has to be decreased or 2024 will be a rerun of 2020. And I doubt the Dems will accept a loss in 2024, so things will get dicey. They haven’t viewed a GOP president as legitimate in decades.

  17. Shall it be sustained? Can you look at the news and think so?
    BREAKING: We are on scene as a massive single group of approximately 450-500 migrants just crossed illegally into Eagle Pass, TX. It’s one of the largest single groups we’ve ever seen. These huge groups are a massive drain on BP resources & they happen almost daily here.
    Roughly 60,000 Reserve and Guard troops are now cut off from pay & cannot train after refusing the COVID-19 vaccine. The huge number comes amid a recruiting crisis & annual training season for part-timers.

  18. “The most important thing right now needs to be getting GOP governors in as many as possible of PA, MI, WI, GA, and AZ.”
    Even more important for election security are Attorney General and Secretary of State. It’s the Secretary of State in most states that runs the elections and the Attorney General that has to enforce the rules. Many Governors have very little say so, Texas being one of them.

  19. We’ll see if the GOP has any brains with how they react to this bodega killing in NYC–the Mitt GOPe pukes will say to avoid it as too divisive, but a Hispanic store worker defending himself against a black career criminal who attacks him unprovoked and immediately getting charged with murder should be a way to massively boost the Hispanic shift to the GOP…

  20. Brian: “We’ll see if the GOP has any brains …”

    Sadly, we all know the answer to that question. I used to blame the Institutional GOP in Congress — an obvious band of principles-free self-serving toadies. And then someone pointed out that both Johnnie McCain and little Mittens won primary contests for the presidency by getting millions of votes from ordinary GOP voters.

    The painful reality is that the corrupt & worthless Institutional Republicans are an accurate reflection of too many ordinary Republicans.

  21. “And then someone pointed out that both Johnnie McCain and little Mittens won primary contests for the presidency by getting millions of votes from ordinary GOP voters.”
    Well let’s remember our history–in 2000 the establishment shoved W to the front, and the base tried to revolt, with McCain being the anti-GOPe option. The GOP traditionally has a “next in line” nominating approach, so in 2008 McCain was the establishment pick, and the base tried to revolt, with Mitt now being the anti-GOPe option. Neither was exactly beloved, they were both the one guy who was there to protest against the terrible establishment pick. In 2012 it was Mitt’s turn. There wasn’t a single protest candidate, because the options were all terrible. A bunch of them had their turn as protest darlings in polling, but no one really became the one alternative. (My proudest presidential voting moment may be refusing to vote for Mitt). And in 2016 there was finally a protest candidate who was strong enough to win.
    Unfortunately the stables need a much more thorough cleaning…
    Yes there are a lot of normie voters, who don’t know what time it is, but that’s the way of things. Everyone wants to think that things are ok, that rocking the boat is bad, etc. It was ever thus…

  22. Hilariously 2 of the HIMARS sent to Ukraine have been destroyed. By geolocationg the CNN videos of the secret HIMARS operation, they were hit minutes later.

    Even more hilariously, the Chechen’s claim to have bought one from the Ukrainians, for a million dollars.

  23. I voted for guiliani in 2008, for gingrich in 2012, and for cruz in 2016, yes a bit contrarian, I wouldn’t have voted for mccain except for the huntress, who seemed to be only one who knew the stakes, chalk it up to naivete, that the party would back her in the end,

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