What We’re Fighting For
When I was a young man, I came across a creed written by Dean Alfange. I was so impressed by this statement of freedom and what it means that I memorized it and have kept it with me through all my years of military service, and everything I have done since.
What makes this statement particularly interesting is Dean Alfange’s background.
The Honorable Dean Alfange was an American statesman born Dec. 2, 1899, in Constantinople (now Istanbul), Turkey. He served in the U.S. Army during World War I and attended Hamilton College, graduating in the class of 1922. Hamilton offers the “Dean Alfange Essay Prizes” established by Dean Alfange and awarded to the students who write the best and second-best essays on a feature or an issue of American constitutional government.
This is all well and good, but when I tell you that Alfange was the American Labor candidate for governor of New York and a founder of the Liberal Party of New York, you may well be surprised.
I think what this tells us on this day commemorating the longest duration representative democracy on this planet, that fundamentally, we all are
Americans. The grave markers on the hillsides overlooking the beaches of Normandy do not list Republican, Democrat, Liberal, Conservative or any other political label. All they list is a name and other vital statistics of an American soldier who died for freedom on those distant shores.
Alfange understood this, as thousands of young soldiers, sailors, and airmen understand today. Here then is my tribute to the man who wrote this a century ago, and to the country which makes it possible to live in freedom today, and for all the tomorrows to come:
I do not choose to be a common man.
It is my right to be uncommon – if I can.
I seek opportunity – not security. I do not wish to be a kept citizen,
humbled and dulled by having the state look after me.
I want to take the calculated risk; to dream and to build, to fail and to succeed.
I refuse to barter incentive for a dole.
I prefer the challenges of life to the guaranteed existence;
the thrill of fulfillment to the stale calm of utopia.
I will not trade freedom for beneficence nor my dignity for a handout.
I will never cower before any master nor bend to any threat.
It is my heritage to stand erect, proud and unafraid;
to think and act for myself, enjoy the benefits of my creations
and to face the world boldly and say, this I have done.
Robert G. Williscroft is DefenseWatch Navy Editor
I have a fancy version of this creed on my website for any of you who wish to download and frame it: www.argee.net/my_creed.htm.