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DietrichForty-five years ago, former SS troops gathered by the thousands. Old friends emerged from self-inflicted obscurity. Many, intent on still concealing their less-than-positive one-time career pursuits, joined comrades-in-arms unfazed by the bloody legacy they splattered on the pages of history. They were Adolf Hitler’s elite personal security who took an oath to their Fuhrer rather than to their country.

It wasn’t just Oval Office tape recordings that Richard Nixon wanted to get rid of. According to documents made public last week, the 37th president ordered the removal of pieces of modern art placed in embassies during the Kennedy administration. Calling such pieces “little uglies,” on January 26, 1970 Nixon issued a memo calling the examples of modern art and architecture in government offices “incredibly atrocious.”

Great legends are often built on the ashes of someone's destruction — whether figurative or literal. Competition is often a zero-sum game. One man's moment of triumph is another's devastating defeat. Bobby Thomson hit the home run that made him forever famous, the "shot heard around the world" in the ninth inning of the final playoff game, the home run that won the pennant for the New York Giants and sent the Brooklyn Dodgers home for a long and bitter winter. But Ralph Branca, the Dodger pitcher who surrendered that home run, was forever marked as a loser. The world must seem merciless to a man who was one of the best pitchers in the game of Major League Baseball, but must go through life labeled a "loser" because of one pitch in the ultimate game of a fabled season.

John ColterThe sinewy, bearded man raced up the brushy hillside, blood streaming from his nose from the terrific exertion. He did not consider himself a fast runner, but on this occasion the terror of sudden and agonizing death lent wings to his feet.

Our own Founding Fathers were convinced, and history has proven them prescient, that they were building a new and everlasting republic that would do what other republics of the ancient world had failed to do: survive the effects of the maladies of self-government and bequeath to the subsequent generations of Americans a sound and stable republic — if they could keep it.

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