When you're a columnist, you tend to spend most of your time covering the hot issues of the day. While there's nothing wrong with that, it's not a bad idea to do something a little out of the ordinary every once in a while. So, with that in mind, I decided to write about some of the Americans that I've found inspirational. Not all of these people are saints and more than a few of them have feet of clay, but I've come to admire each and every one of them.
Andrew Jackson: "Old Hickory" was a ferocious Indian fighter, a warrior's warrior, and a common man who played a crucial role in the expansion of the United States. He smashed the Creek Indians and took 8 million acres at their expense, kept the British from cutting the country in half by defeating them at the Battle of New Orleans, and took Florida from the Spanish. Then to top it all off, he became President of the United States.
Rush Limbaugh: When I was a mushy-headed moderate in college who was looking to learn more about politics, listening to Rush and reading his books converted me to conservatism. Then, when I considered getting into political blogging, I figured, "Hey, if Rush can do his radio show, why can't I create a political blog?" Of course, if Rush hadn't saved AM radio and proved that there was an audience for conservative commentary on the news, there might not have even been a conservative blogosphere for me to get into in the first place. Other than Ronald Reagan, nobody has done more to advance conservatism than Rush Limbaugh.
Abe Lincoln: Because of his steadfast leadership during the Civil War, slavery was ended in the United States and the Union was preserved. In my book, that accomplishment makes him the second greatest American, just behind George Washington.
Billy Graham: His work in bringing so many people to Christ undoubtedly makes him one of the greatest Americans in history and additionally, he has always seemed to me to be exactly what a Christian should be: a humble, imperfect person who works to correct his flaws in order to please the Lord.
Michelle Malkin: Malkin is the best of the best in my chosen profession, professional blogging. Not only has she built two huge blogs from the ground up, she's a successful columnist, writes books, does regular TV appearances, and still finds time to take care of a family. She's also brilliant, courageous, and has a knack for finding stories that deserve more attention. If feminism hadn't been warped and twisted by left-wing ideology, Malkin would be a prototype of the sort of woman that feminists would aspire to be.
George S. Patton: He was one of America's greatest warriors, a salty tongued military genius who wanted nothing more than to meet and destroy the enemies of his country. In WWII, he got his wish, and had they listened to Patton, the war might have been ended a year earlier.
Ross Perot: I'm not so impressed with Ross Perot the politician, but Ross Perot the man is someone worth emulating. Perot wasn't born rich. He built his incredibly successful company, EDS, from scratch and when two of his employees were taken hostage in Iran, he actually hired retired Green Beret Colonel Arthur "Bull" Simons to lead what later turned out to be a successful rescue mission. And Perot didn't sit at home, he went with the team into Iran. Now that is a great American.
Muhammad Ali: To me, Muhammad Ali's story is quintessentially American. He was born poor and worked his way up to the top of the fight game. Time and time again, people counted him out -- in both of his fights against Liston, after he lost to Ken Norton and Joe Frazier, when he had to fight George Foreman -- but Ali proved to have more heart and skill than they ever thought possible, and each time he found a way to come out on top. Ali's talent and work ethic made him a champion, but his charisma and belief in himself made him legend.
Ayn Rand: Rand is my favorite philosopher and her great works like The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged had a profound impact on my thinking and the thinking of conservatives across the country.
Ronald Reagan: Reagan is responsible for rebuilding the military, the economy, conservatism, and the Republican Party. Then, to top it all off, he brought down the Soviet Union -- and all the while, he was charismatic, optimistic, and patriotic. All Republican politicians over the last 27 years have been compared to Reagan and although many of them are fine people, none of them have come close to measuring up.
William Tecumsah Sherman: Robert E. Lee was the best general of the Civil War and U.S. Grant wasn't far behind, but I've always been a particularly big fan of Sherman. Now, a lot of my fellow Southerners spit when they hear the name Sherman, but his military strategy was not only brilliant and much copied, it saved a lot of Southern lives. Atlanta could be rebuilt, but the fathers, husbands, and sons who lived because Sherman ravaged the countryside instead of grinding them down as Grant did, couldn't have been as easily replaced.
Thomas Sowell: Sowell's books, The Vision of the Anointed and Basic Economics are conservative classics and his ethics, class, and knowledge of economics shine through in column after column.
John Wayne: If it were possible to make a movie that captured the essence of what it means to be an American, it would be a Western starring John Wayne.
John Hancock: We hear a lot of laughable talk about "speaking the truth to power" today, but when John Hancock and his fellow Founding Fathers signed the Declaration of Independence, that was really what they were doing. They risked their lives, fortunes, & sacred honor for freedom and Hancock stood out amongst all of those great men because he made his signature large enough for the British to read "without spectacles." Since then, his act of defiance has been etched into the character and culture of our country.
George Washington: If not for the greatness of George Washington, America's "indispensable man," history would have turned out far differently. He may have been the only man in the whole nation capable of saving our troops from destruction after numerous defeats by superior British forces, while keeping morale high enough to insure that our army was stocked with new recruits. Had a stray bullet killed Washington, America would have lost the Revolutionary War and although we would likely have eventually shaken the British shackles off, it may have been put off for decades.
Then, when Washington became President, he was so wildly popular with the American people and the troops, that it may very well have been possible for him to rule the country as a dictator. A lesser man might have succumbed to the temptation, particularly back then when America was taking its first unsteady steps towards freedom. But Washington served with honor and set precedents that to this day, Presidents are still obliged to follow.
George Washington was truly the "Father of Our Country" and all Americans past and present owe him a tremendous debt of gratitude.