What Makes America Great

Published: November 7, 2016

By Jim Lichtman
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For the past sixteen months there has been a lot of talk that America has lost its way; that we are weak; that we have somehow, lost our greatness.

If that is true, then why do so many want to come to this country, attend schools, build businesses, become citizens, grow and prosper?

Nineteenth century French diplomat and historian Alexis de Tocqueville wrote: “The greatness of America lies not in being more enlightened than any other nation, but rather in her ability to repair her faults.”

America has had its share of dark days, but the reality is we have gotten much more right than wrong, beginning with Mr. Jefferson’s words…

“We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

The greatest asset America has is its people, and the wisdom reflected in an incredible diversity:

“Do not hurt your neighbor, for it is not him you harm, but yourself.”                            – Shawnee Proverb

“That on the first day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, all persons held as slaves within any State or designated part of a State… shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free…”                                   – The Emancipation Proclamation

“Great necessities call out great virtues.” – Abigail Adams

“I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. What I can do I should do and, with the help of God, I will do.” – Everett Hale

“Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable… Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

“I’ll hold the ball Charlie Brown and you come running up and kick it.” – Lucy

“It does not matter how many times you get knocked down, but how many times you get up.” – Vince Lombardi

“There are no constraints on the human mind, no walls around the human spirit, no barriers to our progress except those we ourselves erect.” – Ronald Reagan

“Adversity introduces a man to himself.” – Anonymous

“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” – Abraham Lincoln

“We judge ourselves by what we feel capable of doing, while others judge us by what we have already done.” – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

“Reason obeys itself; and ignorance submits to whatever is dictated to it.”                  – Thomas Paine

“It is easier to fight for ones principles than to live up to them.” – Alfred Alder

“A people that values its privileges above its principles soon loses both.”                      – Dwight D. Eisenhower

“Ethics is knowing the difference between what you have a right to do and what is right to do.” – Justice Potter Stewart

“America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.” – Abraham Lincoln

“We must accept finite disappointment, but we must never lose infinite hope. “        – Martin Luther King, Jr.

“We judge of man’s wisdom by his hope.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Knowledge speaks, but wisdom listens.” – Jimi Hendrix

“Nobody cares how much you know, until they know how much you care.”                  – Teddy Roosevelt

“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I, I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.”  – Robert Frost

“Someone once asked me ‘why do you always insist on taking the hard road?’ and I replied ‘why do you assume I see two roads?’ ” – Unknown

“I never failed once! It just happened to be a 2000-step process.” – Thomas Edison

“Energy and persistence conquer all things.” – Benjamin Franklin

“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself…” – Franklin Roosevelt

“You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you stop to look fear in the face.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

“Courage is being scared to death — and saddling up anyway.” – John Wayne

“The color of the skin makes no difference. What is good and just for one is good and just for the other, and the Great Spirit made all men brothers.  It is not the color of the skin that makes me good or bad.” – White Shield

“The highest result of education is tolerance.” – Helen Keller

“Human frailty, greed and ruthlessness are freely distributed through the gene pool. We need to be neither cynical nor naïve, just mature enough to face the facts and keep going forward.” – Stanley Crouch

“I am pleading for a time when hatred and cruelty will not control the hearts of men, when we can learn by reason and judgment and understanding and faith that all life is worth saving, and that mercy is the highest attribute of man.”                        – Clarence Darrow

“Keep cool; anger is not an argument.” – Daniel Webster

“In working out our destiny… we all should rise, above the clouds of ignorance, narrowness and selfishness, into the atmosphere, that pure sunshine, where it will be our highest ambition to serve man, our brother, regardless of race or previous condition.” – Booker T. Washington

“It ain’t over, till it’s over!” – Yogi Berra


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