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America and the Pursuit of Greatness

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.

“Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness,” seven words indelibly written to stand the test of time. 

When those words were originally written, it was with the idea that people from all over the world would have a safe place to live while escaping the oppression of their everyday life. 

Whether it was a government, a religion, or a political party that was dominating their existence, these foreigners understood that in a new world things would be different.  America represented a place where they could raise their children to be whatever their children wanted to be. 

It was somewhere they could go to sleep at night and not worry about being dragged off, never to see their loved ones again.  America also symbolized the idea that their voice could be heard in order to help in the development of both themselves and their family’s future. 

Yes, all these great benefits were unfamiliar to the new immigrants, but they knew anything and everything was POSSIBLE in America. 

This POSSIBILITY was guaranteed. 

From Athens to Madrid and from Duplin to Kiev, millions came to Ellis Island. 

And from Seoul to Beijing and Tokyo to Melbourne, they journeyed in droves to Angel Island near San Francisco, all to begin a new life. 

What they brought with them was usually only the clothes on their back.  But they knew they were promised “Life, Liberty, and the PURSUIT of Happiness. 

They also brought something else, an indomitable spirit to succeed. 

They knew America would allow them to rise to the greatest heights that their imagination could take them. 

Even though they knew they could succeed, they also knew they could fail.  It was all up to them. 

But the beauty was, if they did fail, they would learn from their experience and America would allow them to rise again.  That was guaranteed. 

The American history books are filled with immigrants who tried and failed, and tried again and failed again, and tried again and finally succeeded. 

Some achieved heights that were awe inspiring, from Albert Einstein to Andrew Carnegie and from Irving Berlin to Joseph Pulitzer, their stories are what legends are made of, and what made America great. 

Unfortunately, nowadays, our politicians, mainstream media, and leaders in general have taken the seven famous words and reduced them to only four.  The sign out front now says we guarantee “Life, Liberty, and Happiness.” 

Should you try and fail?  No problem. 

The government will pick you up to try the same thing over and over again. 

The American dream, I am sorry to say, has been shattered by not allowing people to achieve their full potential. 

With safety nets in place for everything, it takes strong determination in order to be great.  Because with greatness comes failure, with greatness comes trying again, and with greatness comes wanting it so bad, you must pay a price. 

The price is no bailout, no giveaway, and no applauding defeat. 

Will we get our greatness back? 

Not until we realize that “Happiness” is not guaranteed. 

The guarantee is “Life, Liberty, and the PURSUIT of Happiness.” 

The founding fathers understood this and the early immigrants understood this. 

And to get greatness back, we must also understand this.      

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