On Independence Day, we celebrate not only the beginning of our country’s history, but the story behind our shared membership in the American nation — one that the Democrats would prefer that we forget.
It is not a time simply to remember the founding, Thomas Jefferson’s immortal words, or the mechanics of how our great republican experiment began. It is the day on which we most remember that we — Americans — are America.
This country is not simply a place, nor is it a mere set of ideas. It is a people, a set of shared experiences, institutions, and a story that binds us to this land in a way others are not.
There are warts and scars in that story, like there are in the history of any nation. It includes the bloodbath of the Civil War that proved necessary to overcome slavery, that fatal flaw of the founding that Jefferson called out in his first, July 2, 1776 draft of the Declaration of Independence. It includes our government’s atrocious treatment of American Indians as we moved west across the great frontier, and against Japanese Americans following Pearl Harbor. And it includes centuries of regrettable societal hostility towards gay people.
That does not mean it is acceptable for us to discard our founding values, disparage our history, or forget that we’re Americans first before we’re a race, tribe, or sexual orientation. It doesn’t mean we can forget the Founders, tear down their statues, and replace them with the secular saints of 20th-century progressivism. It doesn’t mean Christopher Columbus’s heroic voyage should be recast as a genocidal exercise to be remembered on “Indigenous Peoples’ Day.” And it doesn’t mean that the “Spirit of Stonewall” should take an equivalent place beside the Spirit of ‘76.
Far too much of the rhetoric we see from the left today is designed to weaken our conception of ourselves as a nation and blur the distinction between citizen and foreigner into non-existence.
Gavin Newsom, California’s ambitious Democrat governor, accused his state’s Republicans of “fear of the other,” as though that invalidated their concerns over their national integrity. New York City mayor and presidential no-hopeful Bill de Blasio, meanwhile, told Americans that if you “feel you’re falling behind” or “feel the American dream is not working for you: the immigrants didn’t do that to you.”
Putting aside the fact that Newsom and de Blasio are dead wrong on the economics — illegal immigration absolutely hurts wages and job prospects for the most vulnerable Americans — the sentiment they’re expressing completely misses the point.
American patriotism is not about being cruel or hateful towards immigrants, foreigners, or even criminals who break our immigration laws. It’s about understanding ourselves as a distinct people who expect — no, demand — that the politicians and elites who guide our great shared institutions, both public and private, do so for our benefit first.
America is the most benevolent nation on the face of the Earth. We have saved entire continents and routed out tyrants from far away lands to support the God-given liberties of non-citizens.
If our politicians can’t distinguish between people who are born into the generations-long story of America, or are welcomed into it in accordance with our laws and culture, and those who break our laws and demand entry while waving the flags of other countries, then they don’t deserve the support of the American people.
That’s why liberals seek to blur the distinction between citizens and foreigners. It’s the only way they can even hope to get away with advocating for providing taxpayer-funded health care to illegal aliens before every one of their fellow Americans has the best care possible.
So this Independence Day, let’s look back on our proud history and remember that some people are Americans and others are not. That’s what “declaring independence” is all about.
Falwell is the president of Liberty University.
Jerry Falwell, Jr.
President, Liberty University
January 31, 2019
Governor Ralph Northam’s comments regarding infanticide on Wednesday are reprehensible. He has shown once again that he is not a Governor for all Virginians—not the pro-life and not the unborn. Such extremism has no place in Virginia or America, where each individual has the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness endowed by our Creator.
I have two granddaughters: one 11 months old and the other is due to be born any day now. The thought of legalizing the murder of either one of them is repulsive and barbaric.
My interview on Todd Starnes’ radio program, regarding Rachel Maddow’s comments about Liberty University and Kerri Kupec
On December 18, 2018, I went on Todd Starnes’ radio program to respond to the comments made by MSNBC personality Rachel Maddow against Liberty University and our Law School.
Maddow’s smear came in the context of one of our excellent Law School graduates, Kerri Kupec, after the Justice Department named her the Director of its Office of Public Affairs.
You can listen to the archived broadcast HERE.
TODD STARNES: Another big story we’ve been focusing on, these outrageous and outlandish comments from Rachel Maddow attacking Liberty University.
Rachel Maddow: We’ve got a new Justice Department spokesperson [who’s from Liberty University, and Liberty University is founded by a televangelist so that your Christian child wouldn’t be corrupted by actual higher education, you know, and now that’s the spokesperson for the Justice Department. Like, these things add up. They have real results in the world. Is there going to be a backlash to that? Is there going to be a resurgent intellectualism and hard-line conservatism that isn’t the kind of white supremacist stuff that we’re seeing which is the pseudo-intellectual stuff, right? I don’t know.
STARNES: I’ve never heard, I have never heard horse crap spewing from the mouth of a human being like I’ve just heard from Rachel Maddow. It’s really unconscionable what she just did there, but she smeared the thousands and thousands and thousands of young people that have attended Liberty University, that have graduated from Liberty University, one of the finest institutions of higher learning in America. On the Newsmaker line right now to respond to this, the President of Liberty University, Jerry Falwell, Jr. President Falwell, welcome to the show.
FALWELL: Well, thanks for having me on such a busy news day, Todd.
STARNES: Well, this ranks right up there because it’s important for us to respond to these really just frivolous charges that Rachel Maddow levied earlier today.
FALWELL: Well, I’ve always thought Rachel Maddow was a joke. Every time I watch her, she’s got this silly smirk on her face, and when she makes stupid comments like Liberty is not a real university because it was founded by a televangelist, she needs to study her history. Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Brown, most of the Ivy League schools were founded by preachers and evangelists, and that’s a long tradition in this country, and she just shows her ignorance by making comments like that.
Liberty offers 520 programs of study. It’s been fully accredited since 1980. It was only founded in 1971, and it has a medical school, law school, school of engineering. We have 2500 professors from every major university, who got their degrees at every major university in the country. We have graduates going out into all the major graduate schools, into the workforce, and they’re coveted by employers, and it’s the right work ethic and they don’t expect … they don’t have an entitlement attitude. They go out with the idea of serving people and earning their way, and so I think she just shows her religious bigotry when she makes comments like that, and she would like to be an elitist, but I think it would be a compliment to call her that.
STARNES: Well said. You know, I looked at what happened at Berkeley when they invite conservative speakers onto their campus. All hell breaks loose, and they try to silence voices of dissent, and then I look at Liberty University. I mean, you guys certainly are a conservative school, but you’ve invited people like Bernie Sanders and Jimmy Carter to campus, and there were no protests. There were not people trying to shout them down or burn buildings.
FALWELL: No, no. I mean, that’s the other side of the coin. Those universities that were founded by good Christian people centuries ago are now places of indoctrination, liberal indoctrination. They are intolerant. You know, when I was in college in the ’80s, I’d go with my father when he spoke at Ivy League schools, and back then, they would boo and hiss a little bit, but they welcomed him. They treated him with respect, and liberals would say things like we may not agree with you, but we’ll die for your right to say it. Well, they don’t say that anymore. They’ve become fascists. They want to shut you up. They don’t want any other viewpoint but theirs to be expressed in the classroom. They ridicule conservative students who dare to speak up, and it’s not higher education anymore, and even Mayor Bloomberg said so in a commencement speech at Harvard a few years ago. When 96% of the faculty and staff of the Ivy League donates to the Obama campaign, you can’t have real education, and that’s just the bare facts.
STARNES: Well, no, you’re absolutely right about that. When you look at the quality of graduates coming out of Liberty, I know Kerri Kupec. I think she’s just a terrific person and a great choice to be a spokesperson at the DOJ. Shannon Bream, who is one of the great anchors here at Fox News. There are some terrific people coming out of that school.
FALWELL: Yes, and you can’t find 96% of our faculty who support any political party. They’re across the board. They all ascribe to the fundamentals of the Christian faith, but beyond that, their politics is their business. We do attract a lot of conservative faculty and students just because of who we are, but it’s not required, and it’s a shame that … and the reason Liberty is prospering because we don’t try to be like all those other schools that are their way or the highway, and that’s what higher education is supposed to be about, learn about what other people think so you can defend what you believe.
STARNES: And ultimately, those ideas are rooted in that Judeo-Christian philosophy that founded the country.
FALWELL: That’s all it is. It’s that simple, and that’s why America has been the most prosperous country in the history of mankind, and why Americans have been able, they’ve had the means to obey the commands oF Jesus to help the poor. You can’t help a poor person if you’re poor. You have to have free enterprise, you have to have freedom, and you have to have an absence of corruption in government and business. America has had all those things because of that Judeo-Christian ethic, and it’s the only reason that Americans have been able to obey the teachings of Jesus and help those in need is because of the form of government and the Judeo-Christian ethic of the American people.
STARNES: Well, President Falwell, I have a column up at Toddstarns.com, and I just flat out say that I would much rather have a private Christian university that affirms the teachings of Jesus Christ than a government-run university that affirms the teachings of Karl Marx.
FALWELL: Yeah, exactly, or even worse than that, you know, a lot of them are atheists and anarchists, and it’s just … I don’t know how they think that’s ever going to help make America a better place. It makes no sense.
STARNES: Agreed, agreed. Well, President Falwell, we know you’re a busy man, and we appreciate you coming on. I knew you wanted to respond to this nonsense coming out of MSNBC, but we proudly stand with Liberty University.
FALWELL: And I was nicer to Rachel than I should have been.
Todd: Well, if you want to have a last word, you’re more than welcome to do that.
FALWELL: Well, her ratings are all I need to say, and nobody takes her as a serious journalist, and she’s just a commentator and most people don’t agree with her, and all you’ve got to do is look at her ratings, so I’ll leave it at that.
STARNES: All right. Jerry Falwell, Jr., ladies and gentlemen, President of the great Liberty University, and folks, we stand alongside Liberty and Liberty’s graduates and current students on this radio program. Shame on you, Rachel Maddow. Shame on you.
Also, see here for a Liberty University press release on this topic.
The decision by Turkish officials to release American pastor Andrew Brunson, who met with President Trump at the White House on Saturday, was welcome news. It was a testament not only to the president’s strength but, more importantly, his strength of heart and character.
A Turkish court freed Brunson Friday, after he had been held prisoner for two years following an attempted military coup in Turkey. He was charged as a conspirator in the plot, but Turkish authorities were unable to provide any satisfactory evidence to back up the charges against him.
In truth, the only thing Brunson ever conspired to do was to spread the word of God, as he had been doing in Turkey for over 20 years.
After being arrested and imprisoned under appalling conditions – where he was subjected to regular attempts to convert him to Islam – Turkish officials moved the 50-year-old pastor to house arrest in July in the face of U.S. pressure. But that wasn’t enough for President Trump and his administration.
The day after Brunson was placed under house arrest, Vice President Mike Pence issued a stern warning to the Turks on behalf of President Trump.
“To believers across America, I say, pray for Pastor Brunson.” Pence said. “While he is out of jail, he is still not free. And to President Erdogan and the Turkish government, I have a message on behalf of the President of the United States of America: Release Pastor Andrew Brunson now or be prepared to face the consequences.”
“If Turkey does not take immediate action to free this innocent man of faith and send him home to America, the United States will impose significant sanctions on Turkey until Pastor Andrew Brunson is free,” Pence added.
The Turks didn’t heed Pence’s warning. In August, President Trump imposed economic sanctions against Turkey
The Trump administration didn’t stop there. It continued to threaten further sanctions unless Brunson was released. When the Turkish court finally released Brunson, it was against the wishes of the government prosecutors. They sought to imprison him for a decade.
President Trump could have easily sacrificed Brunson to maintain good relations with Turkey, a NATO ally. That nation’s strategic location makes it crucial to containing Russian ambitions in the Middle East.
Previous American presidents, pursuing the globalist agenda, would have quickly caved to Turkey, given the geopolitical realities of the situation. President Trump didn’t. I know this president’s heart – and I know he would never do such an expedient thing. Instead, he did the right thing.
That’s because President Trump isn’t just a strong and tough leader. He’s also a good and moral person.
Time and time again, we’ve seen this from the president. When pursuing a successful diplomatic breakthrough with North Korea, President Trump didn’t just seek nuclear disarmament and the normalization of diplomatic relations. He demanded the return of imprisoned Americans and the return of the remains of those who died in the Korean War.
On the eve of his inauguration, President Trump gave $10,000 of his own money to a supporter who had fallen on hard times, a FedEx employee named Shane Bouvet. Last year, he gave $1 million of his personal fortune to help with Hurricane Harvey relief efforts. Since taking office, President Trump has consistently given up his quarterly salary to government agencies and causes in need of funding.
With the release of Brunson, President Trump has once again displayed his moral fortitude.
This case hits home for me both as a Christian and president of Liberty University. Brunson’s daughter, whose husband serves in the military, shouldered many burdens in her fight to get her father released. She is an online student through Liberty University and we chose to give her a full scholarship to pay her remaining tuition fees.
Now that Brunson has been released, over 3,000 letters written by Liberty students have been sent to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, thanking him for his work in this case and encouraging him to keep up the administration’s fight for religious liberty around the world. My wife Becki and I wrote one of them and we were beyond thrilled to have the opportunity to do so.
The mainstream media still take every possible opportunity to paint President Trump as egotistical and uncaring, but his positive, heartfelt actions speak far louder than their negative, heartless words.
I’m often asked how an evangelical Christian can support a man like President Trump. The answer is simple. I learned long ago to judge people – especially politicians – by their actions and not their words.
Plenty of presidents have paid lip service to God, but few, if any, have demonstrated a consistent tendency to walk in Christ’s shoes and make the morally correct decision instead of the politically easy one.
I am proud to call President Trump my friend. Above all, I’m proud of what he’s doing for our country and countrymen, at home and abroad.
God bless you, Mr. President.
Jerry Falwell Jr. is the president of Liberty University.
I met Joe Manchin in 2009 when the Liberty University football team played West Virginia University in Morgantown. It was a cordial meeting and a close game that WVU won. I told the then-Governor how my maternal grandfather grew up in a rural part of Lincoln County in the early 1900s. Today, I want Senator Manchin to know that West Virginians have an important question for him.
Will Manchin vote for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh based on the judge’s impeccable experience and judicial prudence, or will the Senator continue his resistance to President Trump by siding with Democrat obstructionists?
As one of the most qualified nominees ever to be chosen to sit on the Supreme Court, Judge Kavanaugh will uphold the values and laws that have made West Virginia, and our country, great.
As a UVA Law School-trained attorney myself, I see Judge Kavanaugh as a brilliant, mainstream jurist with incredible legal credentials. He’s an academic who earned his law degree from Yale Law School. His resume includes a clerkship with Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, and he currently sits on the D.C. Circuit — often referred to as the “second highest court in the land.” As a judge, Kavanaugh has built a thorough track-record of rulings that interpret the law, not make the law.
Like President Trump’s last Supreme Court nominee, Neil Gorsuch, Kavanaugh is pro-Second Amendment, and a staunch defender of the Constitution and religious freedom. Best of all, Kavanaugh is set to join one of the most originalist Supreme Courts in recent history.
As a Christian, I believe it’s more important than ever that judges exercise integrity in how they protect religious liberty. Judge Kavanaugh exemplifies the ability to consider each individual case on its facts, rather than on the emotional public debates that can hijack a right as important as one’s faith.
President Trump didn’t require a political litmus test for Judge Kavanaugh, however. Following the “Ginsburg Standard,” a judge sworn to decide impartially shouldn’t offer forecasts or hints that would show disdain for the entire judicial process.
Instead, Kavanaugh is committed to rising above partisan politics and making the legal judgment most in line with our Constitution regardless of his own views.
It’s for these reasons that President Trump invited Senator Manchin as part of a bipartisan group of six senators to the White House to discuss the appointment to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy immediately after his retirement was announced. It was one of many collaborative steps the President took in what has been the most transparent Supreme Court selection process in history.
But things turned south quickly with Senator Manchin when President Trump made his final decision earlier this week. Manchin was invited to attend Kavanaugh’s White House ceremony, but declined President Trump’s offer. He then went a step further and said that he will only support Kavanaugh if the jurist publicly supports Obama’s failed healthcare law, instead of judging him by his ability to uphold the Constitution.
This isn’t surprising given Manchin’s allegiance to the far-left, which demonstrated outrage and theatrics over President Trump’s decision.
For instance, the Democrats publicly stated, “The SCOTUS consideration of Judge Brett Kavanaugh… represents a clear and present danger to the safety, health, and wellbeing of Americans.”
Before President Trump even announced his pick, Senator Elizabeth Warren said that “every single judge on @realDonaldTrump’s shortlist for the Supreme Court has been pre-approved by right-wing extremists.”
And Senator Bob Casey said that regardless of who President Trump picked, he would obstruct and oppose the nominee.
So all of this leaves Senator Manchin, whose state President Trump won by over 40 points in 2016, with two options: advise and consent on the President’s Supreme Court nominee who is by far the most qualified judge in the country, or side with the radical left-wing Democrats who wish to obstruct President Trump’s every decision. He has sided with them many times before, to the dismay of countless West Virginians.
Manchin voted against President Trump’s tax cuts and opposed repealing and replacing Obamacare, two of President Trump’s key legislative agenda items. He also opposed nearly half a dozen of President Trump’s other judicial nominees.
Brett Kavanaugh’s reputation and experience make him an excellent candidate for our nation’s highest court — one who will carry the torch of religious liberty and American exceptionalism for decades to come
Now is the time for West Virginians to ask Senator Manchin to put aside his left-wing obstructionism and make his choice to vote for Supreme Court Justice nominee Brett Kavanaugh.
Note: The following is an excerpt from my 2018 Commencement speech at Liberty University.
My family has lived in Virginia since the 1600s and moved from Richmond and nearby Buckingham County in 1834 to purchase a large farm on the northeastern slopes of Liberty Mountain. Descendants still own the land and my father’s 84-year-old twin-brother Gene and his wife JoAnne still live in the house where my dad and Uncle were born.
Every day, I drive past Poplar Forest, the summer home and plantation of Thomas Jefferson who wrote in the Declaration of Independence that we are all created equal and endowed by our Creator with certain inalienable rights and among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
One of the events that has brought great happiness into our family just recently was the birth of Virginia Rose Falwell to our son Wesley and his wife, Laura.
For three months now, Becki and I have taken great joy in becoming grandparents.
You have to admit, she’s a beautiful little girl.
The name Virginia Rose has great significance for the Falwell family, and I want to take a few minutes to tell you a small part of that family story.
Most of my Dad’s experiences were memories of joy, zeal, and adventure — growing up on the other side of the mountain to my left just two miles from here, looking down on where we sit today.
However, at least one of my dad’s experiences was bitter and full of sorrow. He wrote about it in his autobiography which I helped him research and write back in the 1980s. You see, his father Carey Falwell died at the age of fifty-five, when my dad was just fifteen years old. Of course, that was years before I was even born—so I never knew my grandfather.
We wouldn’t be sitting here today had it not been for the tragedies in Carey’s life.
You see, he had a daughter named Virginia; a second daughter named Rosha Geraldine; and a son named Lewis.
But in 1931 when Rosha (another way of saying “Rose”) was eleven she suddenly felt very ill and Carey called the family doctor. She was diagnosed with a severe cold—then pneumonia. But while the doctor was still grasping for a correct diagnosis, Rosha’s appendix burst, and she died suddenly. Carey probably couldn’t understand why a loving God would allow for such a tragedy.
Six months later, tragedy struck again. Carey had a much younger brother named Garland who had been in trouble with the law repeatedly for several years. The family was making plenty of money with a modern hotel and an upscale nightclub and dance hall atop Liberty Mountain, gas stations, restaurants, passenger bus lines that ran between Washington D.C. and Durham, N.C. — you name it, the entrepreneurial Falwells were into it. But Garland was taking dope as it was called then and drinking, and he had a fiery temper when intoxicated. One night the police were called on Garland who was drinking and driving. Garland thought his brother Carey had called the police, so he loaded two pistols and headed over for a confrontation. He almost killed him, firing off shots and grazing Carey—who jumped out a window and ran and got a shotgun. Garland came back around, firing his pistols with the intent to kill Carey. But Carey stumbled backward, whirled around, raised the shotgun and fired blindly.
In a moment’s time—Garland was dead.
The local magistrate declared Carey to be innocent on the grounds of self-defense. And the public knew that Garland had been a terror in the town for years—so nobody thought ill of my grandfather. But my grandfather spent the next seventeen years of his life living with the remorse for what had happened that night.
Now keep following me here.
My Grandparents were about 40 and thought they were done having children with their first three. But with the death of the daughter and the tragedy with Uncle Garland, they decided to have another baby. Instead, they were blessed with two—twin boys. My dad and his brother Gene.
They named my dad “Jerry” in honor of their lost daughter, Rosha Geraldine.
Even so, Carey kept on drinking. He was a successful and hard-driven businessman during all these years, always wearing a three-piece suit and working seven days a week. But every night he’d turn to the bottle and start playing back in his mind the tragic events of 1931. Friends recall how no matter what subject of conversation they started on, Carey eventually turned the conversation back to those tragedies. And interestingly to what a wonderful wife he had in my grandmother, Helen Virginia, who was always a strong Christian and who eventually was instrumental in my father becoming a Christian.
Finally, in the spring and summer of 1948—exactly seventy years ago—my fourteen-year-old father watched his father begin a painful death from cirrhosis of the liver. He would die in October, changing the trajectory of my dad’s life forever.
But I’ve just skipped over the best part of that terrible summer and fall. You see, Carey had a cousin named Virginia McKenna, whose husband was a successful industrialist and who herself was a committed Christian. Along with my Grandmother, she had prayed daily that Carey would become a Christian. She enlisted the help of a man who was a Christian and a friend of Carey’s named Frank Burford — to approach Carey on his deathbed with a local pastor. Carey responded by professing his faith in Christ just weeks before he died.
My father even remembered hearing the death rattles in his lungs the night he died – October 10, 1948.
I personally found his last wallet in an old chest in the 1980s stuffed with business papers but containing only one photograph. It was of his brother, Garland. That wallet is on display in the museum in DeMoss Hall today. It shows just how affected he was by Garland’s death.
Now if you were able to follow all that, then you understand that my own dad would not have been born had it not been for the tragedies he and his parents faced. And, humanly speaking, this University came into existence because of my dad. You would be somewhere today, but you would not be in Lynchburg, Virginia. And I wouldn’t have been born.
The suffering didn’t end with my grandparents. The first 25 years of this university’s history were marked by one financial crisis after another. My father fought many of these battles alone. I joined him in 1987 as a young attorney and helped him endure great hardships until Liberty finally emerged triumphant and became the world-class university it was envisioned to be academically, athletically, and financially. And in the last 11 years since his death, we have finally constructed the world-class facilities you see on campus today.
Of course, we usually can’t make any sense of our sorrows as we are going through them. In fact, on earth, we may never get to see the reason for those sorrows—but God knows what He is doing, and He can be trusted.
So you see, the birth of Virginia Rose Falwell, our sweet granddaughter, is the latest manifestation of God’s faithfulness in one family—my family. And reminds us of the Scripture that says, “Weeping may come for a night, but joy comes in the morning.”
All you have to do is look around this campus and look at these wonderful graduates to see how joy grew out of suffering. Whether in joy or in sorrow we all have a higher purpose.
So Graduates, go forth from Liberty in trust and confidence that God has a plan for each of you and your families—just as he did for the Falwell family.
One hundred years ago today, Donald Trump’s grandfather Frederick died suddenly at the age of 49 — an early victim of what would later be known as the Spanish Flu. The morning before his death he woke up ready to continue his building of the American dream of happiness, family, and financial success. As Gwenda Blair, biographer of the Trumps, records the events, Frederick took 12-year-old Fred — his oldest son and the boy who would become the father of our current president — with him on a walk around Queens, checking in on properties he owned and partnerships he had formed.
Fred, young as he was, knew that he wanted to do the same kind of real estate and from-scratch business development that his dad had been doing since coming to America. Frederick and Elizabeth had settled permanently in New York in 1905, arriving from Germany just prior to Fred’s birth. They had big dreams for their future lives in the land of the free, where prosperity was neither guaranteed as a birthright nor restricted by government regulation.
And then, in less than a day, Frederick fell ill and died, leaving behind a young widow (she was 38) and three children. He bequeathed to them stocks, savings, and real estate, but would it be enough for them to survive or thrive?
What happened next is that young Fred Trump stood tall and lived out the Protestant work ethic of his German-Lutheran heritage. Though not legally old enough to even sign contracts and mortgages, he joined together with his strong and steely mother and formed E. Trump & Son — the original seed of what later became The Trump Organization.
Fred continued his education and graduated from high school, but he also took night classes to learn the technical skills related to building and construction. He labored hard, often like a work animal — literally — as stories are told of how he hauled lumber up muddy roads when the workhorses were unable to make the climb. And he taught himself how to build—first just simple garages, and later, the construction of houses and apartment buildings.
By the time he married Mary Anne MacLeod and started a family in the 1930s, Fred was already a successful real estate developer. He financed his younger brother John’s education all the way through a Ph.D. from MIT. John would go on to become one of the greatest inventors and physicists of the twentieth century and was given honors by King George VI, Harry Truman, and Ronald Reagan.
When Donald Trump was born in 1946, Fred was considered one of the greatest residential property developers in New York. When he died in 1999, his New York Times obituary called him the “Postwar Master Builder of Housing for Middle Class” for having built and managed over 20,000 residences throughout the city.
But here’s the remarkable thing. Fred would have been an ambitious, hardworking man even without the personal tragedy of losing his father. But would he have started so early? Would he have been as driven and efficient in learning new skills if his dad had still been alive to provide for the family? And two decades later, would he have found himself in the same social circles that led him to meet and wed Mary Anne?
I don’t think so. I believe it was the tragic death of Frederick that occurred one hundred years ago today that thrust Fred Trump down a different path than he otherwise would have known. And it was the economic freedom available in our great nation that offered him the chance to make something of himself. Eventually, when the current polarized politics cools down, historians will “discover” and write about these two great Americans.
I have a very similar family story, although the colorful background details differ. My family has lived in Virginia since the 1600s, and in 1834 they purchased a large farm on the northeastern slopes of what is now Liberty University.
Most of my famous father’s childhood experiences were full of joy and adventure. But 70 years ago this fall, my grandfather Carey died at the relatively young age of 55 when my dad was just 15 years old. And though my dad was not left impoverished (my grandfather had been a successful entrepreneur: bus lines, gas stations, hotels, and an upscale nightclub), when you lose a parent in adolescence, your carefree life comes to a crashing halt.
But 17 years before his own death, my grandfather experienced tragic sorrow twice in the same year. First, his 10-year-old daughter died when her appendix burst. It probably didn’t have to end that way, but the doctor had misdiagnosed her illness until it was too late.
Then, six months later, my grandfather Carey shot and killed in self-defense his younger brother who came at him in a drunken rage over a misunderstanding. Grandfather never got over the events of that night, and as a result, he turned heavily to the alcohol that led to his early death.
As he was dying, 70 years ago this summer, a friend of my grandfather visited him and told him once again the Gospel of Jesus Christ. After a lifetime of unbelief and running from religion, he found a loving God in the end and called on Christ in faith and repentance.
But here’s the remarkable thing from my family’s story. In response to the sorrow of losing their daughter, my grandfather Carey and my grandmother Virginia decided to bring another child into the world — though they were now almost 40. She miscarried, bringing more sorrow. But then she conceived twins and brought my dad and uncle into the world.
So in a very real and literal sense, my father would not have been born had his parents not experienced deep pain. And, of course, that means that I would not have been born, nor would the institution that I now lead have come into existence.
As I reminded our twenty thousand graduates at Liberty University’s recent Commencement service, the Bible tells us: “Weeping may last for a night, but joy comes in the morning.”
Donald Trump and I share this in common: Our fathers and grandfathers were amazing entrepreneurs who created buildings, businesses, and institutions (and their wives were women of noble character and strength). And both of our fathers learned firsthand two important lessons about life. First, it’s in the personal trials and tragedies of one’s life where character, virtue, and fortitude are most formed. Second, a nation with political and economic freedom offers the greatest opportunity for prosperity.
Because these principles are true in every generation, it is up to each one of us to apply them in our own life and community. As Jesus said, “To whom much has been given, much will be expected.”
Note: This article originally appeared here at Newsmax.com.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]