Cask & Barrel

We The People

I only received this letter posthumously, 10 years after it was written, as part of my Grandfather’s estate as it was sorted through and dispersed by his executor. My dual American-Canadian citizenship has always been something I’ve taken for granted, yet I feel a personally affected by the political events of our Southern neighbours, particularly this presidential term. Although my Grandpa was a staunch conservative, and we disagreed on many partisan issues like climate change and healthcare, I believe our fundamental ideologies  were the same.

June 17, 2007

Dear Kirstyn

It pleased me to be with you as your sponsor when you were sworn as a citizen of the United States of America at the ceremony in Buffalo.

You are an American by circumstance. Too many people take that circumstance lightly while millions the world over would, and have, given everything including their very lives to become Americans. Why is this so?

In the history of mankind many nations have experimented with democracy with varying degrees of success. Winston Churchill noted that democracies are the worst form of government…. except for the alternative.

The U.S.A. has many faults but those faults are open for all to see. None of the experiments have been more open in this regard but none have survived longer. Why should this be?

Democracies will always be “works in progress” and none more so than America. It is a nation of constant change not all of which serve to advance democracy because they are the product of people and people make mistakes. But, in time, the people are able to correct mistakes and the work does progress. I believe this is possible because its founding documents begin with the wonderful words, “We the people…..” thus signifying the people are telling the government what its powers and limitations are.

I hope with the passage of time and life experience you will attach an ever greater importance to your American citizenship and, in your own way, contribute to its progress toward perfection of a democratic system which enobles all individuals. It is a work which will certainly not be completed in my time nor, probably, in yours. Nor will it be easy work but we should take heart from Emmerson’s words when he said. “I progress slowly, but infinitely more surely going up hill than down.”

Thanks to qualities you have inherited from your Mother and Father you have a good mind and disposition to be considerate of others. I believe you accept that, despite their fallibility, people can, and will, learn from their mistakes. On that basis alone I also believe you agree “we the people” have the right to ensure government serves us and that those who would dictate to individuals through any form of central planning be shunned.

Whatever the future holds in store may you always seek for the truth of the matter and know that my love and confidence are with you.


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