As anyone reading my books, attending my workshops, or viewing my internet blog posts knows, I have made the study of character development and its importance my lifes work for many years. When I was doing my early research for my upcoming book “Disturbances of Character,” the inextricable relationship between charcter and freedom became all too clear to me. I came to a deeper understanding of how the erosion of time-honored cultural norms, values, and priciples of conduct have impacted the character development of our country’s people and placed the freedoms we so treasure at great risk. John Adams knew well the importance of character to the survival of a free state when he commented about the framing of the American Constitution: “Our constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”
It was about that time that I began to be haunted by a melody in my head. It played day-in and day-out nearly every day, relentlessly. I instinctively knew that one part of the melody would pair with the line “America, my home.” I truly had no idea why I was being haunted by this melody, where it came from, or what I was supposed to do with it. One day, while talking with my brother on the phone, he challenged me to articulate the main point I needed to make in my upcoming book about the interrelationship between freedom and character and what I thought needed to be done to stem the character crisis our country has been experiencing. I told him that we all have an individual responsibility to cherish and honor the freedom we have and to do that expressly through the development of our own character. It’s the amassing of multitudes of persons of character that can make a country great and bring prosperity to many. If people of character are given opportunity and freedom, greatness and prosperity inevitably follows. When people abuse the freedoms they have and behave recklessly and irresponsibly, all of society suffers. The economic crisis we face today is a clear testament to that reality. So, it became clear to me that I was supposed to write a song of inspirational quality that would rekindle patriotic pride but that would come from the heart and reflect an individuals duty to honor the opportunity our freedom affords.
Despite the fact that in 1999 there wasn’t a person, music publisher, or record industry executive even remotely interested in a patriotic anthem, and despite never having even imagined doing anything like it before in my life, for some reason I felt driven to compose and produce “Anthem for the Millennium,” more commonly known as “America, My Home,” and to register the copyright. The day the tape was made of a demo recording, I took it to a committee planning an outdoor Memorial Day concert and celebration. To my surprise, Memorial Day, 2000 became the day of the premier performance of the song. It rallied the crowd and caught the attention of some folks. It was again performed on the 4th of July in 2001. When the September 11 attacks occurred, a local television station remembered the performance and its effect on the crowd and paired the song with a video montage of the tragic events, airing the montage after each nightly newscast for almost a week. Then, I started to understand why this strange inspiration had come to me in the first place and what it’s purporse might be. The following month, a large crowd assembled at a riverfront amphitheatre to salute the men and women in uniform. Anyone who wishes can click on the link below to see that performance by award-winning country singer Ricky David Tripp. The song is also now featured on the country’s premier patriotic website, USA-Patriotism.com.
I know in the deepest recesses of my soul that we are all a very small part of something much greater than we can even imagine, let alone define. I also know that we have a responsibility to ourselves and to posterity to develop ourselves in such a manner that we make a meaningful contribution not only to the perpetuation of our species, but also to the preservation of the glorious miracle of life, our life-sustaining environment, and the time-tested institutions among men that make prosperity possible. Millions of people still live in misery and without hope in cultures and under governments that dictate and repress. People not only yearn to be free but also need to be free to prosper. But freedom carries with it the burden and responsibility of character. The now deep-rooted awareness of this has defined my purpose for the rest of my natural life. I will strive to be faithful to it in my writings and presentations. You should hear the truth of this come through clearly in the sentiment of my first and probably best composition. I know it did not come from me, I was just the first to hear it in my head. I am grateful to the player.
We now face the most significant economic challenge since the great depression. In large measure, our predicament is the direct result of irresponsibility and character deficiency from the halls of Congress to the corporate board rooms across the nation. And who is asked to pay? As always, it’s the unspoken heros of the country – those who bear the burden every day and fork over a huge share of the just rewards of their labor. We need to inspire ourselves now more than ever – if not for ourselves and our well being, then for our children and generations to come. We must also teach them just how precious it is to have freedom. The freedom to worship, to assemble, to speak your mind, to express yourself, to criticize your government, etc. And we must also teach them that our freedoms have already been severely restricted because of the irresponsibility of some and is at risk of vanishing altogether unless moral integrity and character become as commonplace as they were during our time of true greatness.