Jackie Gingrich Cushman

Revolutionary leader Patrick Henry understood it was inevitable that we would fight the British for our freedom even as others hoped for a peaceful resolution. His speech in support of a colonists' militia ended with the now famous line, "Give me liberty or give me death." We value freedom of speech and liberty.

Abraham Lincoln fought to keep the union together, then fought to end slavery. We value personal freedom and equality.

Theodore Roosevelt, an asthmatic, sickly child, pushed himself physically to become a rough rider and a champion of the strenuous life. We value overcoming personal obstacles.

General Dwight D. Eisenhower led more than 70,000 American troops who stormed the beaches on D-Day and freed Europe from Nazi rule. We value liberty and freedom.

The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. championed equal rights. He noted in his speech at the Lincoln Memorial his dream that "my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character." We value personal character more than skin color.

President John F. Kennedy challenged the nation to put a man on the moon. We met that challenge. We value exploration and achievement.

President Ronald Reagan challenged Mikhail Gorbachev to "tear down this wall," based on the belief that freedom, free speech, free elections and free markets would win over a totalitarian regime. We value political and economic freedom.

As a nation, we have a choice: to focus on narratives and stories that tear us apart and reinforce what we do not want, continuing to divide Americans from each other, or recount national stories that reinforce the fundamental values of our country: faith, hard work, religious freedom, liberty, personal freedom, exploration, political freedom, economic freedom, human life and civic involvement.

What will you choose?

Jackie Gingrich Cushman

Jackie Gingrich Cushman is a speaker, syndicated columnist, socialpreneur, and author of "The Essential American: 25 Documents and Speeches Every American Should Own," and co-author of “The 5 Principles for a Successful Life: From Our Family to Yours”.