As we approach July 4 and Independence Day, this Sunday, I thought it would be appropriate to tell an “American Story.”

In 1968, I graduated from the United States Air Force Academy near Colorado Springs, Colorado.  In those days, graduation was called “June Week” and was almost a week of events culminating in graduation day.  My parents came for graduation and one evening we all went to the Flying W Ranch for a western chuck wagon barbeque dinner and show.  Printed on the back of the entry ticket was “My Creed” by Dean Alfange.  I have carried that ticket and “My Creed” in my wallet ever since.  I read it regularly.

MY CREED by Dean Alfange

“I do not choose to be a common man. It is my right to be uncommon. I seek opportunity to develop whatever talents God gave me – not security. I do not wish to be a kept citizen, humbled and dulled by having the state look after me. I want to take the calculated risk; to dream and to build, to fail and to succeed. I refuse to barter incentive for a dole. I prefer the challenges of life to the guaranteed existence; the thrill of fulfillmentto the stale calm of utopia. I will not trade freedom for beneficience nor my dignity for a handout. I will never cower before any earthly master nor bend to any threat. It is my heritage to stand erect, proud and unafraid; to think and act myself, enjoy the benefit of my creations and to face the world boldly and say – ‘This, with God’s help, I have done.’  All this is what it means to be an American.”

Reading this today, you would think this was a far-Right Wing Conservative’s Creed.

Dean Alfange was anything but.   He was born in Turkey to Greek parents and immigrated to the United States as a very young child. That part of the story is a fairly normal American tale for people born in the late nineteenth century.  What is not normal is the rest of the story of the man who penned the above words.

Dean Alfange graduated from Columbia  with a law degree and practiced law in Manhattan.  He was very politically active and at various times was the leader of the American Labor Party, worked for FDR, ran for Congress, and worked for NY Governor Nelson Rockefeller.  But, most interesting to me is that Dean Alfange was one of the founders of the Liberal Party.

In my view, many, if not most, of today’s Conservatives are more liberal in many ways than Mr. Alfange.  If you do nothing more than look at Congress and see the hew and cry from both sides of the aisle, it is for more government, more services, and moves us toward the “guaranteed existence.”  Do you see ‘self-reliance’ advocacy groups?  Or people campaigning to preserve your right to take a risk?  A man who was a founder of the American Liberal Party was far more conservative than most politicians who today call themselves conservatives.

“And now you know, ‘The Rest of the Story’.

This Sunday, join me and celebrate a Happy Independence Day!, not a Happy Dependence-on-Government Day.