10 American Treasures: A Very Personal and Subjective list

Rush Limbaugh is worried about threats to our country including the fact that young Americans are not taught about American exceptionalism. His point is Democrats not only don’t believe in the ideals that made America great, they believe America is the problem. At one point President Obama argued that America is not exceptional. And remember that NY Governor Cuomo had the unbelievable audacity to say America was never that great.

They and other Democrats are deliberately ignoring so much, including America’s rich trove of treasures ranging from the seemingly trivial to the globally important, made up of wonderful, talented people, great products and businesses and institutions that make our country exceptional. Going through even my very limited list makes it clear just how exceptional we are. Suggest any kind of list, of course, and everyone will have something different. That’s what makes it interesting and underscores the point. Here’s my personal list of 10 American treasures that make a difference to me and in some cases, to the entire country.

10) Tabasco Sauce – Produced by the private McIlhenny Company in Avery Island, Louisiana, more than 36 million bottles are sold a year in 185 out of the world’s 195 countries. Tabasco is even a staple at Buckingham Palace. I could have mentioned McDonalds, Amazon, Google, Facebook, Fedex or any of the great American companies that have enormous and successful global footprints, but this is personal. For decades I’ve been putting Tabasco sauce daily on just about everything I eat except ice cream. Now, nearly 80, I’ve never been hospitalized. I’ve largely managed to avoid taking any pharmaceuticals. Coincidence?

9) Valley Forge – Located near Philadelphia, this 3,500-acre site was the 1777-78 winter encampment of George Washington’s Continental Army. It commemorates the sacrifices and perseverance of the exceptional generation of Revolutionary War patriots. Few modern Americans can comprehend the hardships of cold, hunger, illness, danger and personal sacrifice these men went through to create a new country that became the United States of America. It’s impossible to visit and not feel this is truly sacred ground. You wonder whether Obama or Cuomo have ever been there.

8) The National Air and Space Museum – Have Barack Obama or Andrew Cuomo ever visited these two spectacular exhibits in downtown and suburban Washington? Among thousands of exhibits they could see the Wright Brothers 1903 flyer, Charles Lindberg’s Spirit of St. Louis that made the first solo flight across the Atlantic, the Enola Gay B-29 that dropped the atom bomb on Hiroshima, the SR-71 Blackbird spy plane that still holds speed records, and early space capsules that put American astronauts into space. There could hardly be a more dramatic testimony to the exceptional greatness of America and its people.

7) Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary – Hardly the most famous or popular of our 58 national or 10,000+ state parks, this National Audubon Society sanctuary located in southwest Florida east of Naples is filled with amazing wildlife including Roseate Spoonbills, Wood Storks, Snowy Egrets and Great Herons as well as alligators, large turtles and snakes. Strolling along the boardwalk in this beautiful wilderness filled with the sounds of birds, alligators and other creatures and away from the noise and conflict of daily American life is a reminder of the beauty and rich diversity of the land we call America.

6) Apple – It’s hard to believe the iPhone was only introduced 11 years ago. Today’s young people cannot imagine an existence without a smart phone. My 12-year-old granddaughter even does her homework on one. Looking at the larger picture, Apple product sales globally are now over 2 billion units.  For me, at my age, my iPhoneX and MacBookPro are my lifelines to the world. I use them with regularity every day. Some folks will say other products are better. Might be. But the phone and the laptop are with me everywhere I go. These have been life changers and I am eternally thankful to Steve Jobs, who in retrospect was an American treasure himself.

5) Fox News.  During my years in professional journalism with the Associated Press, a serious journalist was obligated to report or tell a story as objectively as possible while exposing dishonesty, fraud and corruption as appropriate. Television has changed a lot of that with on-camera grandstanding,  posturing or outright misrepresentation more often than not taking the place of serious reporting or journalism.  The American public is poorly served. The situation is so dire that the president of the United States can justifiably call some of what is reported, “fake news” and those reporters rightfully so “enemies of the people.”  Fox is far from perfect in this regard, but it’s leagues more objective than CNN, MSNBC and the primary three-letter networks. At least Fox makes some effort to be fair and balanced and gives TV viewers the best chance of understanding what is really happening. Without Fox, God knows what would happen.

4) The National World War II Museum in New Orleans is a masterpiece. Designated by Congress as America’s official museum about World War II, this enormous and rich collection of weapons, artifacts, videos, recorded interviews, documents and memorabilia tells the story not only about America’s role in a global war that resulted in some 50 million deaths, but also about a time when Americans were united with largely shared values in a life and death cause and a common sense of destiny, all of which seems largely cast aside today. 

3) Florida Sunrises/Sunsets – Changing demographics and tax flight from liberal states like New York and California are rapidly pushing the political landscape of this once conservative state to the left. Maybe the badly corrupted left can steal elections, but they haven’t yet found a way to trash the stunning beauty of a morning walk along the beach as the sun comes up or the magic of a sunset at day’s end.

Sunrise from Satellite Beach, Florida

Photo credit: Michael Seeley

2) West Point, the other military academies and ROTC schools are still producing young leaders steeped in the traditions of “Duty, Honor, Country” -- values that appear to be slipping away as the corrupt third world mindset steadily creeps into the American fabric and the left hardens its hold on our education system. The academies, filled with some of our best and brightest, remain bastions of hope for our country.  In America’s overly permissive, identity politics, drug fueled culture, it’s not easy for these fine young people to go through what they have to and to maintain the discipline that is required of them. God bless them all.

1) The Constitution/The Bill of Rights – The words written on these documents are the basis of American exceptionalism. The core issues are the guaranteed rights of the individual and keeping government at bay. We haven’t always been successful at meeting these standards, but at least they have provided an ideal to emulate and to strive for. Our Constitution is under increasing attack from the left that is using identity politics, political fraud and the freedoms that that the Constitution guarantees to try and kill it. But as long as we as a nation can remain faithful to these ideals, we have a chance to maintain our greatness and to be the beacon of hope for the world.

Frank Hawkins is a former U.S. Army intelligence officer, Associated Press foreign correspondent, international businessman, senior newspaper company executive, founder and owner of several marketing companies and published novelist.  He currently lives in retirement in North Carolina.

Rush Limbaugh is worried about threats to our country including the fact that young Americans are not taught about American exceptionalism. His point is Democrats not only don’t believe in the ideals that made America great, they believe America is the problem. At one point President Obama argued that America is not exceptional. And remember that NY Governor Cuomo had the unbelievable audacity to say America was never that great.

They and other Democrats are deliberately ignoring so much, including America’s rich trove of treasures ranging from the seemingly trivial to the globally important, made up of wonderful, talented people, great products and businesses and institutions that make our country exceptional. Going through even my very limited list makes it clear just how exceptional we are. Suggest any kind of list, of course, and everyone will have something different. That’s what makes it interesting and underscores the point. Here’s my personal list of 10 American treasures that make a difference to me and in some cases, to the entire country.

10) Tabasco Sauce – Produced by the private McIlhenny Company in Avery Island, Louisiana, more than 36 million bottles are sold a year in 185 out of the world’s 195 countries. Tabasco is even a staple at Buckingham Palace. I could have mentioned McDonalds, Amazon, Google, Facebook, Fedex or any of the great American companies that have enormous and successful global footprints, but this is personal. For decades I’ve been putting Tabasco sauce daily on just about everything I eat except ice cream. Now, nearly 80, I’ve never been hospitalized. I’ve largely managed to avoid taking any pharmaceuticals. Coincidence?

9) Valley Forge – Located near Philadelphia, this 3,500-acre site was the 1777-78 winter encampment of George Washington’s Continental Army. It commemorates the sacrifices and perseverance of the exceptional generation of Revolutionary War patriots. Few modern Americans can comprehend the hardships of cold, hunger, illness, danger and personal sacrifice these men went through to create a new country that became the United States of America. It’s impossible to visit and not feel this is truly sacred ground. You wonder whether Obama or Cuomo have ever been there.

8) The National Air and Space Museum – Have Barack Obama or Andrew Cuomo ever visited these two spectacular exhibits in downtown and suburban Washington? Among thousands of exhibits they could see the Wright Brothers 1903 flyer, Charles Lindberg’s Spirit of St. Louis that made the first solo flight across the Atlantic, the Enola Gay B-29 that dropped the atom bomb on Hiroshima, the SR-71 Blackbird spy plane that still holds speed records, and early space capsules that put American astronauts into space. There could hardly be a more dramatic testimony to the exceptional greatness of America and its people.

7) Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary – Hardly the most famous or popular of our 58 national or 10,000+ state parks, this National Audubon Society sanctuary located in southwest Florida east of Naples is filled with amazing wildlife including Roseate Spoonbills, Wood Storks, Snowy Egrets and Great Herons as well as alligators, large turtles and snakes. Strolling along the boardwalk in this beautiful wilderness filled with the sounds of birds, alligators and other creatures and away from the noise and conflict of daily American life is a reminder of the beauty and rich diversity of the land we call America.

6) Apple – It’s hard to believe the iPhone was only introduced 11 years ago. Today’s young people cannot imagine an existence without a smart phone. My 12-year-old granddaughter even does her homework on one. Looking at the larger picture, Apple product sales globally are now over 2 billion units.  For me, at my age, my iPhoneX and MacBookPro are my lifelines to the world. I use them with regularity every day. Some folks will say other products are better. Might be. But the phone and the laptop are with me everywhere I go. These have been life changers and I am eternally thankful to Steve Jobs, who in retrospect was an American treasure himself.

5) Fox News.  During my years in professional journalism with the Associated Press, a serious journalist was obligated to report or tell a story as objectively as possible while exposing dishonesty, fraud and corruption as appropriate. Television has changed a lot of that with on-camera grandstanding,  posturing or outright misrepresentation more often than not taking the place of serious reporting or journalism.  The American public is poorly served. The situation is so dire that the president of the United States can justifiably call some of what is reported, “fake news” and those reporters rightfully so “enemies of the people.”  Fox is far from perfect in this regard, but it’s leagues more objective than CNN, MSNBC and the primary three-letter networks. At least Fox makes some effort to be fair and balanced and gives TV viewers the best chance of understanding what is really happening. Without Fox, God knows what would happen.

4) The National World War II Museum in New Orleans is a masterpiece. Designated by Congress as America’s official museum about World War II, this enormous and rich collection of weapons, artifacts, videos, recorded interviews, documents and memorabilia tells the story not only about America’s role in a global war that resulted in some 50 million deaths, but also about a time when Americans were united with largely shared values in a life and death cause and a common sense of destiny, all of which seems largely cast aside today. 

3) Florida Sunrises/Sunsets – Changing demographics and tax flight from liberal states like New York and California are rapidly pushing the political landscape of this once conservative state to the left. Maybe the badly corrupted left can steal elections, but they haven’t yet found a way to trash the stunning beauty of a morning walk along the beach as the sun comes up or the magic of a sunset at day’s end.

Sunrise from Satellite Beach, Florida

Photo credit: Michael Seeley

2) West Point, the other military academies and ROTC schools are still producing young leaders steeped in the traditions of “Duty, Honor, Country” -- values that appear to be slipping away as the corrupt third world mindset steadily creeps into the American fabric and the left hardens its hold on our education system. The academies, filled with some of our best and brightest, remain bastions of hope for our country.  In America’s overly permissive, identity politics, drug fueled culture, it’s not easy for these fine young people to go through what they have to and to maintain the discipline that is required of them. God bless them all.

1) The Constitution/The Bill of Rights – The words written on these documents are the basis of American exceptionalism. The core issues are the guaranteed rights of the individual and keeping government at bay. We haven’t always been successful at meeting these standards, but at least they have provided an ideal to emulate and to strive for. Our Constitution is under increasing attack from the left that is using identity politics, political fraud and the freedoms that that the Constitution guarantees to try and kill it. But as long as we as a nation can remain faithful to these ideals, we have a chance to maintain our greatness and to be the beacon of hope for the world.

Frank Hawkins is a former U.S. Army intelligence officer, Associated Press foreign correspondent, international businessman, senior newspaper company executive, founder and owner of several marketing companies and published novelist.  He currently lives in retirement in North Carolina.