The Inspiration of Georgia O’Keefe

Georgia O'Keefe

Source: PRWeb

If you seen her as a child playing in the field near her Wisconsin farmhouse, you might pass by without thinking twice. You and I might not even realize the little girl who liked to eat dirt, play in the barnyard, and misbehave would, one day, become the greatest woman artist of her day.

Georgia O’Keeffe was born in 1887. She was the second of seven children and had a passion for art which far surpassed that of most women, and even men, of her day.  When Georgia was nine, her parents arranged for her to study art with a neighbor. Each day the horse-drawn carriage would haul Georgia down the dirt road for her art lesson. She immediately fell in love with art and, almost at once, began making big plans for herself. At one point she set fire to several of her drawings. When asked why, Georgia explained that she intended to be a famous artist and didn’t want those drawings found by anyone.

The belief Georgia had in herself is the same belief so many Americans have utilized to climb over obstacles on their way to success. Perhaps her biggest obstacle was the time period in which she lived. During the 1900’s, women who studied art usually became art teachers; they never became independent, world-famous artists. Fortunately for the world, Georgia did not subscribe to this limited belief. She pressed through society’s barrier, moved to New York, and in 1918 was praised as, “The greatest female artist of her time.”

She married Alfred Stieglitz, a famous photographer, in 1924. However when Stieglitz died in 1946, Georgia moved to New Mexico and began producing, what would become, her most famous works of art.  She took up residence in an isolated little village at the end of a twenty-mile dirt road. This simple adobe house was paradise to Georgia. She loved the beautiful mountains, breath-taking sunsets, and inspirational sunrises. As an artist, she had her heart’s desire. It was here she remained the next thirty years until her death.

Georgia O’Keefe did become famous; more famous than, even she, could have imagined. She was a great American full of determination, strong work ethic, and a commitment to perfection. She succeeded at a time when women were deliberately held back, but she never let obstacles slow her down. She was the heart of America.

“It’s okay to be proud to be an American.” –Gary W. Smith

Developing an American Viewpoint

Woman Thinking

Source: Rainscorner

In a previous post I mentioned the importance of knowing what you believe. Arriving at that answer, however, can sometimes prove challenging; it’s best to begin by developing a sound viewpoint. I spoke with more people this week regarding the changes occurring within the framework of our culture. I discovered two distinct types of people: (1) Americans who acknowledge the culture is shifting, but cannot put their finger on the problem. (2) Americans who admitted to struggling when it came to clearly articulating their position to others. This is why developing a focused viewpoint, predicated on facts and history is so critical for every American.

Let me offer you one word of caution before you begin to develop and articulate your point of view—if your goal is to be liked by the majority while gaining approval from others, you will never influence society; society will influence you. Once you take a stand and speak out, you are no longer neutral. Carefully select the ground you wish to fight on and then be prepared to hold the line because those who disagree will come. They will attempt to discredit you and use carefully crafted arguments to trip you up. That is my disclosure to you.

So how do you create an objective standard which can be crafted into a refined point of view? Let truth and measurement be your guide. Truth is the easy part. For example, a thing can be a circle and a thing can be a square, but it can’t be a circle and a square simultaneously. That’s truth; nothing to it! Measurement is harder because it requires a commitment to stay informed. I use the information I obtain to measure laws, policy, and politicians—especially politicians!

For example, when George Herbert Bush said, “No new taxes” and our taxes were raised—there’s your measurement. When Barrack Hussein Obama said, “If you like your health plan, you can keep it” and you got your insurance cancelation letter—there’s your measurement. See how this works? Simply take the truth, without removing the offense that’s inherent to it, combine it with the measurements you’ve collected and educate yourself. Alexis De Tocqueville in 1840 wrote, “The time is fast approaching when freedom, public peace, and social order itself will not be able to exist without education.” Are we there yet?

It’s okay to be proud to be an American.” – Gary W. Smith

Your Liberty, Please

Source: Southweb

Source: Southweb

Most of us would be vehemently opposed if asked to give up our liberties in one collective swoop, but instead we stand by and do nothing while they’re slowly stripped away one by one. Instead of creating a democratic majority in Washington which embraces American freedom, we’ve developed one that rides roughshod over the sovereignty of its people—and It’s only getting worse.

So what does good government look like? Thomas Jefferson in his 1801 inaugural address describes it this way, “A wise and frugal government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, which shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government.” That’s it! American government was never intended to intrusively regulate the day-to-day decision of it citizens.

We have career politicians and government bureaucrats who spend their afternoons deciding what type of light bulb you can use and which soap you’re allowed to purchase. Meanwhile the American people are hurting—massive job loss, sky-rocketing unemployment, businesses are packing up and leaving town, etc… Yet the ruling class gets together and regulates what type of fishhook you can own. God forbid they tackle important issues that might get Americans back on the road to prosperity.

One of my father’s favorite quotes when I was a kid was, “People will do what you let them.” If we continue to create an environment where tyranny can flourish and expand—it will. We must stop allowing law makers to do our thinking for us and ramming through legislation we do not support and consent to. It’s tantamount to handing over our liberties. So how do we fix this? It will take some properly applied effort, but the starting point should be to remove those from office who insist on perpetuating this type of autocracy.

On April 4, 1861 Abraham Lincoln said, “This country, with its institutions, belongs to the people who inhabit it. Whenever they shall grow weary of the existing government, they can exercise their constitutional right of amending it or their revolutionary right to dismember it or overthrow it.” Spoken like a true man of the people. Why would any American give up their rights to the government? Freedom is much harder to obtain than to preserve—don’t ever surrender it.

“It’s okay to be Proud to be an American.” – Gary W. Smith


Leadership: Then and Now

General George Washington

Source: Zazzle

Today a great many Americans are deeply concerned not only because of our rapidly growing debt, but also due to the direction our country is headed. In fact, it’s easy to become demoralized. However, if we compare our situation with the time period following the Revolution…We are tremendously better off.

In 1781 Washington had just won the battle of Yorktown. However, our founders lacked the capital, resources, and infrastructure to even begin solving the myriad of problems which faced our newly-formed Nation. Yet solve them they did—just as we can overcome the complications which face us today. But only if we’re wise enough to realize the establishment will not fix itself.

Shortly after the Peace of Paris in 1783, the outlook for America was nowhere near as bright. The war debt we faced loomed enormously large; both for individual states and our country collectively. To further complicate our predicament, the Continental Congress was still very new and lacked the “Power of the purse” we take for granted today. It had to ask, or basically beg, each state for contributions when it needed funding. The vast resources we currently enjoy were unfathomable at this time—yet America still forged ahead and still found a way.

Today we watch at the division, confusion, and chaos which permeates Washington. It not only tries our patience, but wears away our belief and trust in government. Our troubles, however, still do not compare to the massive dysfunction of the late 1780’s. During this time, many states had legal claims which overlapped each other. The division was so severe, it nearly led to civil war. It was during this pivotal time that one man brought perspective and reason back to the forefront of America’s mind.

George Washington, in his infinite wisdom, sent a circular to the Governors of each state, asking two simple questions: He asked whether the Revolution would turn out to be a blessing or a curse. And he asked if self-government would be proven successful, or if it would fail with the whole world watching. This was enough to reel in a country on the brink of collapse. And yet, we are much better off now than they were then. But make no mistake…The determining factor, both then and now, is still the same; it boils down to effective leadership—and we can select the leadership.

“It’s okay to be proud to be an American.” – Gary W. Smith

My Coffee with General McCarthy

General McCarthy

Source: USAF

I first met Brigadier General Mike McCarthy about eighteen months ago through a business transaction. I immediately liked him—even before I knew who he was or what he had done for our country. As I would soon learn, he was one of the greatest fighter pilots and war heroes who ever took to the skies during the Second World War. What originally should have been a short ten-minute meeting, ended four cups of coffee and three hours later.

The General recounted, at my request and in amazing detail, the fierce battles he fought over Africa and Sicily. Being a Veteran and military history buff, I had many questions and was grateful he took the time to answer each one.

December 8th 1941—the day after Pearl Harbor was bombed—Mike McCarthy responded by joining the Air force. He volunteered for the Aviation Cadet Aircrew training program. The selection process was so intense, demanding, and rigorous that by March 18th 1942 only forty-one from the hundreds of original applicants in class 43-A still remained. This would-be General proudly stood among the graduates, ready to hit the skies in defense of our nation.

He spoke of his dogfights in the P-40 and later the P-47. He had several close calls; the planes he and his men flew were routinely riddled with bullet-holes from the battlefield in the sky. Sadly, many of the brave warriors who flew and fought at his side never returned. After a seemingly endless barrage of high-risk combat missions, McCarthy was promoted to Major and became the Squadron Commander. He continued to lead his men into battle after battle with an unshakable resolve to win the war.

Eventually we did win the war and Major McCarthy was an instrumental part in America’s victory. He then decided to make the military his career—a career that would span over thirty years of honorable service. He continued to instruct Combat Airmen, served as a Jet fighter Squadron Commander during the 1950’s Cold War, and was promoted to Brigadier General in 1969 before finally retiring from active duty in 1972. The General is one of the men who make America great; each of us owe him a sincere debt of gratitude. General, we salute you.

“It’s okay to be proud to be an American” – Gary W. Smith

How to Be a Patriot: 5 Simple Steps

Patriot Drummer

Source: Wikipedia

1- Understand Patriotism: Emerson writes, “Courage charms us because it indicates that a man loves an idea better than all things in the world, that he is thinking neither of his bed, nor his dinner, nor his money, but will venture all to put in act the invisible thought of his mind.” This, I believe, defines the pure American patriot—one who loves freedom more than security.

2- Determine Your own Beliefs: It’s essential to clarify exactly what’s important to you—and you shouldn’t need to ask your spouse, boss, neighbor, or advisor what You believe. Abraham Lincoln aptly stated, “Important principles may and must be inflexible.” You cannot develop principles without first knowing your own mind. When I need to crystalize my thoughts and ideas, I go off by myself with a legal pad and ballpoint pen. It’s there I dig deep, asking not only what, but why.

3- Use Rational Discourse: Our grandparents based political decisions on rational discourse—not feelings, false-smiles, or spin. Our generation tends to vote with the “heart”. And relies mainly on emotion, commonality, and whether we like the candidate. This is dangerous and we’ve seen the results of this mindset play out in multiple elections. The guy or gal seemed “like us” or was an entertaining orator. However, once in office we quickly realized their true intent and imposing agenda.

4- Dig for Truth: Do your research. Find out where political candidates stand on important issues ahead of time. And read the voting record of those currently in office; this information is easily found online. Did your Senators and Representatives stand for you when voted…Or for themselves? If it’s the latter, fired them at the next election. Remember, they were hired by You to represent You.

5- Take Responsible Action: Socrates writes, “Let him that would move the world, first move himself.” That means, at the least, making a personal commitment to stay informed. Take note, “Informed” may not be the 5’Oclock news. Be careful where you buy your so-called truth from; much of what is sold to us and deemed reliable can easily be determine inaccurate with a little probing.

Being a patriot isn’t difficult, but it requires we do more than simply follow the crowd. Think it through.

“It’s okay to be Proud to be an American.” – Gary W. Smith

Our Freedom: Esteemed Too Lightly

Freedom Flag

source: sodahead

In The Times That Try Men’s Souls, Thomas Paine wrote, “The harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly.” It’s these very ideals and principles that, I believe, have inspired so many great Americans to reach for and achieve greatness. In fact, it seems only when what we desire costs us something of measureable value, do we tend to regard and treasure it all the more.

Those of us born in America have always enjoyed, for the most part, a sizeable amount of freedom. It’s as natural to us as breathing. In fact it’s become so commonplace that I fear we may not even recognize when our freedom—through closed-door, late-night, back-room votes—is gradually being taken and “legislated” away. The same way nature can slowly wear down land by erosion, so too can our liberties be casually, yet deliberately seized from right under our noses. And much like erosion, it’s usually unnoticeable until it’s too late.

More laws are being passed, today, restricting the free-will of the American people than at any previous time in history. Sadly, we won’t find much of this mentioned by our so-called “Watch Dogs” in the mainstream media. The Greek historian, Thucydides, was correct when he said, “The secret of happiness is freedom; the secret of freedom courage.” I would argue than none have embraced this principle with more fervor than the American people. In fact the strength and longevity of our nation provides unmitigated evidence that Americans will never capitulate to despotism—if we can identify it as such.

However, much of the time, it would seem we know more about the “ball game” than we know about recent legislation; laws that will invariably restrict, not only our liberties, but those of our children and grandchildren. I would, once again, commend those who stay abreast of changes occurring within our Nation’s framework and encourage those who’ve yet to become informed. This isn’t a call to the “right” or the “left” but to all of us, in general, to become keenly-aware of the direction our country is headed. We can easily elect those who correctly carry forth the will of the American people and fired those who no longer represent our values. For us, fundamentals such as freedom, purchased at a price so high, should never be esteemed too lightly.

“It’s okay to be proud to be an American” – Gary W. Smith    

As American as Babe Ruth is to Baseball

Babe Ruth

“The Babe”

What would October be without baseball? It was 1932, the game was tied four to four, and he had two strikes against him. It was then he focused his attention, pointed to a spot in center field, and hit the longest homerun which has ever been hit in Chicago’s Wrigley Field. His name was George Herman Ruth, known affectionately by his fans and teammates as “The Babe.” Few people are more iconic than this legendary ballplayer, nor is there arguably a sport more American than baseball.

Baseball, to many, has become synonymous with American freedom. And no player had more influence upon the game than Babe Ruth. Looking back at his humble beginnings no one could have foresaw the incredible contribution Babe Ruth would, one day, have upon the game.  Babe Ruth was born in Baltimore, Maryland to very poor parents. He would later recall the times poverty forced him and his sister to go without dinner. Perhaps it was these painful memories that propelled Babe Ruth to leave his indelible mark upon baseball. Those unimpressed by his athletic ability still became fans when news of his warm-hearted generosity spread into every town and city across America. Babe Ruth welcomed letters from children and was well-known for sending thousands of autographed pictures to boys and girls at their request. He founded the Babe Ruth foundation, to help underprivileged children, in 1947 and made hundreds of free appearances for charity.

It was Babe Ruth’s determination to greatness which led him to the plate 8,399 times. While at bat he hit 714 home runs—a feat never before accomplished in baseball history. Although his record has since been broken, the spirit Babe Ruth brought to the game has never been matched. He inspired legends and became America’s first real “sports star” of the 20th century. Babe Ruth loved America and demonstrated his patriotism for all to see.

Looking back it’s hard to find a player, in any sport, who rallied Americans around a single stadium the way Babe Ruth did. Men, women, and children would pack out the stands just to watch him play. Babe Ruth is one of the men who helped make America great. He started with nothing, but ended with everything; considered by many to be the best baseball has ever seen. Yes he was a great ball player, but more importantly he was an exceptional American.

“It’s okay to be proud to be an American” – Gary W. Smith

The Great Society

President Lyndon Johnson

President Johnson

Long before the birth of America it was said by Aristotle, “Men come together in cities in order to live, but they remain together in order to live the good life.” When I look at what society has become today I have to wonder if this is what he really meant. Then I’m reminded that society—the “Great Society” does not happen by chance and cannot be sustained through neglect or inattention. It must, like a garden, be watered, protected and cared for. Apathy in a garden leads to weeds and thorns just as citizen laxity will rapidly breakdown the fabric of society.

It was President Johnson who spoke most succinctly on the “Great society” when addressing the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, May 22nd 1964. He said, “Your imagination, your initiative, and your indignation will determine whether we build a society where progress is the servant of our needs, or a society where old values and new visions are buried under unbridled growth. For in your time we have the opportunity to move not only toward the rich society and the powerful society, but upward to the great society.” In other words the development of a great society rests squarely on the shoulders or its citizens; people like you and me. Hope alone will not get it done—for hope without action is weakness.

So what is the answer? What can we do, as we watch in dismay, the current trajectory of our beloved society? I know there are many, like me, who are disappointed with the path we’ve chosen to follow. It’s the path of least resistant; the path where those in charge rule and the rest of us go about the business of our day—affected, but unsure what to do about the situation.

If you’re calling your local officials and writing your representatives, I commend you. If you’re not I hope to encourage you. Let’s vote in those we want and out those we don’t. Unlike other nations where challenging authority is quickly met with a bullet in the head and a shallow grave along the roadside, Americans can make their voices heard without fear of retaliation. America is bursting wide with opportunities for each of us to truly make this a “Great society.”

“It’s okay to be proud to be an American” – Gary W. Smith

American Exceptionalism: A Lunar Landing

Full Moon Pic


It was a decided act of bravery and one man’s willingness to disobey his fear which led to one of the most remarkable accomplishments of all human history—American Exceptionalism at it’s finest!

On July 16, 1969 one of the most memorial moments in American history occurred when the first human being set foot on another world. This was the day when Astronaut and American hero, Neil Armstrong, walked on the moon for the first time. Neil was accompanied by Buzz Aldrin, another remarkable American and believer in American exceptionalism. Together, they bravely explored the moon on foot.

This wasn’t just another example of scientific history, but one of American exceptionalism because we beat the Russians in the race for space. It was American exceptionalism which propelled Apollo 11 239,000 miles into space. Remember, at this time we still didn’t know what the surface of the moon was really like. Neil Armstrong, when interviewed after his return, admitted that they didn’t know if the surface was stable and solid or if like quicksand they would sink into several feet of moon dust.

The same American exceptionalism which was alive and well that fateful day, lives and breathes today. Like a flame refusing to be quenched, so is our belief in America. There are those today, especially in politics, which will tell you American exceptionalism is dead. I caution you not to meekly accept that pronouncement of defeat upon our nation. Instead… think it through! This is not only our country, but our parent’s and grandparent’s country; this is the nation our children will inherit. The only way American exceptionalism can perish is if we allow it to be snuffed out without a fight.

You and I can change the tide of current events though our thoughts, deeds, and actions. As Americans we should embrace and promote American Exceptionalism. When we preach democracy to our children and pledge allegiance to our flag we fight the tyranny that grapples to end American Exceptionlism. When we stand for hard work, family pride, faith in our God, and love for our nation we are keeping American exceptionalism alive.

“It’s okay to be proud to be an American” – Gary W. Smith