One of the 19th century’s most famous poets, Lord Byron, compressed into two lines of immortal verse an essential truth about how self-respecting men and women need to live: “Know yet not? / Who would be free, themselves must strike the blow.” José Rizal, hero of Filipino independence, made the same point still more graphically: “There are no tyrants where there are no slaves.” Similar sentiments can be found in the literature of other lands. A Romanian proverb runs: “Whether one dies young or old, death is always the same. But it is not at all the same whether one dies like a lion or dies like a dog.”
The word “hero” so often conjures up images of the brash and the bold. We may think of Audie Murphy’s WWII exploits, the Spartans at Thermopylae, or the doomed holdouts at the Alamo. But then there are the quiet heroes, people such as Oskar Schindler. Ever since Schindler’s List hit the silver screen in 1993, his clandestine efforts resulting in the rescue of almost 1,200 Jews from Nazi death camps have been well known.
The “Principles of 98,” as they came to be known, are rarely discussed in modern history lectures even though these are integral to understanding how our federal Constitution was intended to function. These are the principles of state interposition or nullification that assert that if the federal government fails to check itself through one of its three branches, then it would be up to the states to rein in the feds.