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.
The 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.
As Americans come to dread the increasingly bromidic nature of the festive season (where, that is, they are still allowed to celebrate Christmas at all), they might find it profitable to reflect upon the First World War. For it was that conflagration that did so much to make the West what it is today.
A generation after George Washington’s Christmastime farewell to his troops and to the Congress who commissioned him in 1775, Clement Clarke Moore penned the iconic poem he called “A Visit From St. Nicholas,” but known to most as “’Twas the Night Before Christmas.”