Jim Dickson

The land of the free and the home of the brave 


With the horror that is taking place in Ukraine and the possible return to the bad old days of the “Cold War” in mind, I read an article in the March 11 edition of the The Wall Street Journal entitled “Home of the Brave, RIP,” by Matthew Hennessey. 

The article quoted a Quinnipiac University survey asking “What would you do if you were in the same position as Ukrainians are now, stay and fight or leave the country?” 

Fifty-two percent of Democrats and 32 percent of Republicans said they would leave America rather than defend it. Like Mr. Hennessey, I was shocked by the answer. Like him I couldn’t help but ask, what has happened to the land of the free and the home of the brave? 

I would have thought that the vast majority of Americans would have been like Winston Churchill and the English people in World War II: “We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in fields and the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.” 

And they didn’t, they won. And so would we. 

I remember when I was a kid growing up in the 50s and 60s we had the specter of nuclear war hanging over us on a daily basis. We learned to get under our desk at school and face away from the blast. 

Most of the public buildings were designated air raid shelters with a Civil Defense sign affixed to the outside wall. Inside, usually in the basement, were stacks of canned water, food, and medical supplies that would tide you over until the worst effects of the bomb were over. 

Many people had their own shelters in their back yards with similar supplies. There were frequent interruptions on radio and TV to test the “Emergency Broadcast System” that would tell you when and where the atomic blast was coming, and where to go to seek shelter. 

Thanks to a policy called MAD “Mutually Assured Destruction” and some hard work by Ronald Reagan, Margret Thatcher, and Mikhail Gorbachev the “Iron Curtain” was lifted, the Berlin Wall came down and most of Eastern Europe was freed. The USSR was broken up into what we see today, the “Cold War “was over and with it the threat of nuclear annihilation kind of went away, until now. 

During the “Cold War” there was a small group of people known as the “Rather be Red than Dead” movement. They said that it would be better to give in to the Russians and live rather than fight them and die. 

Most people held them in the contempt that is reserved for cowards and traitors, and few took them seriously. I am sad to say that it looks like that group has gained some new members over the past years. 

It’s been more than 50 years since I have shot at anything more dangerous than a poor innocent pheasant or a quail, but I would like to think that if push came shove, I would push and shove back hard, and I also believe that most of those who said that they would leave rather than fight for America would be right there with me. 

Born, raised and educated in the Southwest, Jim Dickson served in the U.S. Navy Reserve in Vietnam before a 35-year business career. Retired to St. Helena Island, Dickson and his wife are fiscally conservative, socially moderate and active in Republican politics, though they may not always agree with Republicans. Having lived around the country and traveled around the world, Dickson believes that the United States truly is the land of opportunity. 

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