Glenn Beck came to Freedomfest and spoke for an hour, without notes but with a tonne of props. Extraordinarily impressive, he just used a series of artefacts to structure a story about the nature of the American dream. The most interesting part was the story of Washington crossing the Delaware. His back to the wall, only 2000 troops left, he wanted to attack the Hessians on the other side of the river. But these were the best soldiers in the world at the time so it was impossible to think how he could get his men to take them on.
It was then that Thomas Paine wrote about the times that try men’s souls. He described how Paine wrote the text on a drumhead, had it printed and sent to Washington. It was this text that had the men get into those boats and fight the battle that would begin the ascent. And the way Beck began the story was to say that the picture no longer exists because it was bombed into oblivion by the British when bombing Germany in 1945!
The painting, it seems, was by a German admirer of America who hated the left revolutionaries of Europe and painted the painting in homage. The painting had never been housed in America but in Germany. It was painted in admiration of the American way of politics. That same small but important admiration of America in Europe was shared by those in France who commissioned the Statue of Liberty. The assembly of the Statue was itself a different story, since it required the skills of a man who had been railroaded into jail during the Civil War, driven into a self-imposed exile, eventually went to work in Cairo for a French contractor, and when he came back home many years later, because of his experience was uniquely able to understand how to assemble the statue because he knew how to read French industrial drawings.
American exceptionalism remains and the home of the idea of freedom that others to this day wish to share.