Thirty-six years is a long time. The last time I tromped around DC I was ten years old. My parents took the family on a bicentennial trip and I was the happy participant. This time I was the parent with four in tow.
It was a marvelous trip that put us in the White House, the House Gallery, and the Supreme Court and allowed us to gasp at the massive monuments to Lincoln, Jefferson, and MLK. One might say that we set our feet on the holy grounds of freedom.
But something tells me that the freedom that my children now hold is substantially less secure than when I was a child. Oh certainly, we might point to outside threats from which our continental position is no longer protected. But I cannot help but think that what makes our freedom particularly wobbly is not bombs tied to someone's chest, but the ticking time bomb of a virtue-less society.
The founding fathers understood that freedom will ultimately destroy itself without self-restraint as people through the democratic process cast their vote for self-indulgence and then for governmental protection from their very lack of honesty, hard work, and generosity. Freedom was won as the American monuments and seats of power attest, but the question is can freedom be sustained. I do not think I am an alarmist to say that without virtue it cannot.