“Let us be sure that those who come after will say of us in our time, that in our time we did everything that could be done. We finished the race; we kept them free; we kept the faith.” – President Ronald Reagan
The quote by President Reagan seen above is not particularly well known. It is not quoted nearly as often as President Kennedy’s line: “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country,” or as often as President Roosevelt’s famous quote: “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” However, this quote by Reagan, in my opinion, deserves a place alongside the famous lines by which we, as Americans, choose to abide. That being said, let’s break it down.
People are generally of the mind that we should take care of ourselves right now without any concern for the generations to come. Young Americans constantly seek immediate convenience at the expense of our future children and grandchildren. The generations before my own acted irresponsibly in the fact that they willingly led the United States into a debt of nearly TWENTY TRILLION DOLLARS. That’s ludicrous. We have a duty not only as Americans, but as humans, to attempt to leave our nation and the world in better condition than how we found them. I know that statement goes against everything my “do now, think later” generation stands for, but it’s a fight that needs to be fought. Take your children and grandchildren (or your future children and grandchildren) into consideration throughout your daily lives.
President Reagan goes on to tell us to finish the race. Finishing a race not only implies that we see things through, but it also implies that we have a goal to begin with. In my short 20 years, I have seen countless people, of all ages, drifting through life with little-to-no purpose. I know how easy it can be to fall into apathy and monotony. It is crucial that we remember how the United States became the powerhouse it is today. Since our nation’s founding, Americans have fought, bled, and died to ensure that our freedoms would endure to benefit the next generation. The goal of our leaders, soldiers, and civilians was to finish their leg of the race and hand the baton to the next group. Our goal should be the same.
Of our many defining characteristics, freedom can reasonably be considered the most prevalent in the minds of Americans. Our soldiers have been deployed to numerous battles in numerous wars to ensure that we maintain our freedoms here at home while simultaneously extending a hand of liberty to the oppressed from around the globe. We ought to remain keenly aware of the fragility of our freedoms in the face of terrorism and other radical ideologies whose sole purpose is to bring about the end of freedom.
Finally, it is imperative that we keep the faith. Our nation has a rich history of following the leadership of men and women of faith. In fact, Reagan likely got the inspiration for this quote from 2 Timothy 4:7. It reads as follows: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” The principles of freedom that we hold dear are emboldened and given purpose by the faith that drives us. In one of my previous articles entitled, “Why Our Leaders Should Fear God,” I stressed the importance of electing men and women of faith. That being said, we should also have faith in our fellow man. We need to believe in each other, depend upon each other, and respect each other. When we regain faith in God and in each other, we will gain a better nation and a better world.
President Reagan probably never knew the impact this quote had on the world, but the truth in his words will stand the test of time. The burden of building a better world for the generations that follow rests on the shoulders of every single one of us.