The people are waking. The biggest challenge facing America is the entitlement mentality, particularly regarding pensions and retiree medical benefits. Those who quail at the thought of dealing with the problem fear the greater victim strategy that has become the hallmark of Democrats and liberals in general.
How can we delay Social Security checks? What we need is an honorable citizen who was entitled but put his country first. I know of one. He is my second cousin seven generations removed, Colonel Joseph Hodgkins. Those of you who saw the History Channel's series The Revolution will remember that name. He first entered the story of the American Revolution as Lt. Hodgkins of the Ipswich militia on the night of Paul Revere's ride. His service continued through the Battle of Bunker Hill, Dorchester Heights, on to Brooklyn Heights, Harlem Heights, Princeton, a winter suffering the effects of a smallpox inoculation at Valley Forge and then on to Saratoga.
Here are excerpts from the book This Glorious Cause describing his pension experiences.
The first Pension Law passed by Congress (in 1818) was for the survivors of the War of Revolution. All who would make oath that they actually needed the pension to make them comfortable could have it. An agent visited the town, and advertised for all Revolutionary survivors to meet him, and prove that they were soldiers, and subscribe to the oath. James Odell, Esq, of Salem was the agent for Ipswich...He and Col. Hodgkins were well acquainted and met like old friends. The Col. stated that he did not know as he needed the pension to make him comfortable, as he was still able to carry on his land, and to see to things generally. Mr. Odell said, "You can have it, if you will ask for it". "Well," said the Col. "I will take it for one year," and he did. But when the year came round, the dear old veteran, who spent his best days in the army, and when the war ended had scarce to pay his way home, and was surely entitled to a pension, just because he could by hard toil live without it, would only receive it for that one year. He lived the rest of his days on his own honest, hard earnings. Surely this was unselfish love for his country.
Court records of the 1820's confirm this account of Hodgkins' action, but they also show he regretted it, and spent the last years of his life trying to recover his pension...According to affidavits offered between March and June 1829, he had sold off real estate to pay debts of $1,210, the bulk of his obligation to the Crocker heirs. His remaining properties-83 acres of unproductive land, a yoke of oxen, two cows, six sheep, a shovel, a hoe, and a fork and furniture-were valued by the court at $807. His debts totaled $770.32, mostly in small sums due servants, the village blacksmith, saddler, and cooper, even to Thomas Knowles, the barber, who had shaved the Colonel without pay since August 1820. Hodgkins was clearly eligible for a pension but proof of the fact did him little good because he died on September 25, 1829.
Note that he died with something many of today's Americans might wish they had, a positive net worth of $36.68. I'd wager many of our current veterans would be willing to follow the example of this kind of leader and defer their pensions to restore the full faith and credit of the United States. If they do that, then how can the lesser victims do any less?
In the hour of darkness and peril and need,
The people will waken and listen to hear
The hurrying hoof-beats of that steed,
And the midnight message of Paul Revere.
Henry Wordsworth Longfellow