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Harmon

Analysis of this week in history should remind us of our American resolve to overcome adversity.  

By Adoria Doucette

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July hosts a multitude of historically significant dates in America.(public domain photo)

There is a great myth that frequents the hearts and minds of many that America is in decline. Our budget and trade deficits, cultural excessiveness, and idealistic foreign policy adventures are cited as reasons that our republic will follow the expansion-stability-decline path of Spain, Great Britain, France, and Rome. Although this is an interesting intellectual exercise, these ideas are wrong. Yet, the myth still prevails. For every challenge that has faced America, we have risen and overcome adversity. Our nation is the only in recorded history that has risen to dominate global affairs, mainly from economic, political and cultural power. Time will only make us stronger, and America always renews our great ambitions. We are a young country rapidly moving forward. And most importantly, our nation is exceptional from a historical perspective because the qualities of our dominance and influence are based on ideas, which are always expanding and incapable of decline.

Not only did we celebrate the birthday of our nation this month, but this week marks the 145th anniversary of the constitutional amendment that solidified that every person born in the United States was a citizen with full protection under the law. This landmark declaration erased the overtly blatant racism established in the infamous Dred Scott case and established the foundation for the evolution of civil rights across the landscape of America. As our nation grapples with recent incidents of racial confusion, let us remember that the power of our laws – when applied equally – are the best in the history of mankind.

This last week of July is also important in American history, because 75 years after the historical adoption of the 14th amendment, the USS Roy Harmon was first launched by the United States Navy becoming the first warship named after an African American. Leonard Roy Harmon was serving as Mess Attendant First Class during one of the most pivotal naval battles of WWII when he used his body as a shield to protect medical personnel as they attended to the wounded in complete darkness during an epic battle against the Japanese fleet at Guadacanal. His death was instrumental in the survival of the USS San Francisco. Although the ship lost its captain and key commanders, the battle was won. Harmon posthumously received the Naval Cross, and the USS San Francisco received the Presidential Unit Citation. Harmon willingly sacrificed his life to contribute to the idea of a better America, and because of the 14th Amendment, the United States belonged to him as much as it did anyone else.

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The first warship in American history named after an African American was launched in July 1943. (Photo courtesy United States Navy Archives)

Progress and prosperity come through struggle and this week in July our most sophisticated and dedicated African American professionals and leaders are convening in the city of our nation’s birth in order to chart the way forward for our most challenged communities. The National Urban League is holding its annual conference in Philadelphia, intent on continuing to have the spirit of the 14th amendment apparent in the everyday lives of the disenfranchised, undereducated, and underemployed. The theme of this year’s conference is “Rebuilding America” seeking to identify and implement strategies that provide jobs and opportunity for all. With millions pledged towards these new initiatives, the National Urban League’s aggressive and thorough approach to national empowerment is further evidence that the greatest of our accomplishments are always ahead of us.

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Attorney General Eric Holder speaks at the National Urban League Conference in Philadelphia. (Photo Courtesy National Urban League)

Our American exceptionalism does not demean the humanity of other lands, but highlights the fact that common individuals can play a crucial role in our history; whether it be a struggle to amend our Constitution for the rights of all, the struggle of a mess hall cook helping win a pivotal Naval battle in the most important war in modern times, or the collective action of the best and brightest to ensure that our urban centers set the course for our next great American triumph. Although challenges can be perceived as setbacks, they must be viewed within the context of the epic struggles from which America has always overcome. We are a union of 50 laboratories of democracy. The nature of America’s power will evolve as populations explode around the world, and our dominance will be more nuanced, but our supremacy will never be challenged.

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Power Source is an insider’s view of power networks and activities that contribute to the continued dominance of our nation’s ideals, institutions and individuals. Ms. Doucette has privately orchestrated projects for the world’s most influential individuals, celebrated personalities, and corporations. Based in Washington DC, Ms. Doucette is a proud native of New Orleans, Louisiana. She can be reached at: adoria@thepowersourcedc.com 

Marc Morial

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