Governor Kristi Noem’s Weekly Column: Happy Father’s Day to Our Founding Fathers

Happy Father’s Day to Our Founding Fathers
By: Governor Kristi Noem
June 18, 2021

Father’s Day is a time to celebrate all the great fathers in our lives. My kids have an awesome one in Bryon. My son-in-law Kyle will be a father any day now! And I want to wish every father in the state of South Dakota a very happy Father’s Day. The holiday can also be a tough reminder of loved-ones lost. Father’s Day was tough for me for many years after Dad died. But this Father’s Day, I want to take some time for a little bit of a different remembrance. I want us to remember our Founding Fathers who gave us one of the greatest gifts ever: the United States of America.

We learn lessons from our fathers. My dad’s lessons still resonate with me today. Our Founding Fathers taught us many such lessons. They taught us that freedom is a cause worth fighting for. “Give me liberty or give me death,” Patrick Henry famously said. So many of the brave men who followed George Washington into battle died in the pursuit of that same liberty.

It’s easy to forget that before America’s Founding, liberty wasn’t widely recognized. The rights to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” that Thomas Jefferson wrote about were a controversial idea at the time. America was the first nation to embrace these rights. If our Founding Fathers hadn’t spelled them out so plainly – and then fought and died to make them a reality – the world may still not recognize these rights. In fact, our nation’s success is directly tied to that transformational idea.

The lessons that we learn from our fathers don’t become less important just because we grow older. And the ideals laid out by our Founding Fathers are no less true in a 21st Century America. As we see threats to those ideals, to American freedom, we need to fight for them with the same vigor as Patrick Henry and the same resolve as George Washington.

The lessons that our fathers teach us aren’t made false, or somehow lacking, because our fathers’ flaws. We could each name a few of our father’s flaws. We need to keep that in perspective as we discuss our history and the men who built this country. They were flawed men – just as flawed as any of us. Yet those flaws do not make their ideals any less true, and they do not somehow taint the tremendous accomplishments of our Founding Fathers.

You may be wondering why I’m taking time on Father’s Day of all days to talk about America. I want Kyle, Kassidy, Kennedy, Booker, and my granddaughter to be able to celebrate Father’s Day years from now in a country that is just as free as the America that we grew up in. But that won’t happen on its own. It will take all of us – including all the great fathers – teaching our kids the lessons that we can learn from our history. Those lessons should include both our triumphs and our mistakes. And they should include the stories of the Founding Fathers who risked their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor to build the nation that we know and love.