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Thankful for Freedom

While I was attending graduate school in the early 1980s, I stopped for coffee in a Malibu, California, restaurant. Coming from a non-political family, I knew nothing of political activists—but I met one that day in that restaurant.

He told everyone what a mess the United States had become. He ridiculed our government and our educational, industrial, and banking systems. He was on such a roll that he had everyone on his side except for two people: an old man and me. The activist shied away from me, seeing my Pepperdine hat, Ronald Reagan tee shirt, and Wall Street Journal. So he went after the old man.

As he approached, the old man continued slurping his soup and turned his back. The activist sat down at the old man's table and offered, "Mister, if you can tell me just one thing the United States has ever done for you, just one measly thing, I will leave you alone."

Finally, the old man looked up. He licked his spoon clean and set it down on the table. His red face indicated years of laboring in the sun. With a heavy Russian accent, he replied, "Ve hold zees truz to be self-evident, dat all men created equal, life, liberty, perzuit of happiness." Then he went back to the soup. The activist, defeated, could not argue against what the old man had experienced on both sides of communism.

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