There was a time, in this country, when even a whole day of life was not taken for granted; much less water, shelter, a safe night's sleep.
Now. by reason of a uniquely bountiful heritage, we take for granted too much. We assume. Expect. Insist.
Nowhere else in the world is this possible.
Unthinking, we accept not only the great urgencies of food, shelter and clothes- but the whole spate of little things that make up a way of life, a pattern of security.
We take for granted the protection of our locked front door; a roof to our living room; heat, lights...
We expect our children, bursting with vitality and Vitamin B, to knock our hats askew with the vigor of their welcome.
As breathing, we take for granted a hot bath, soap, penicillin, sodas at the corner drugstore.
We assume that young husbands will make a successful future for themselves, that older husbands will retire on what, over the long years, they have put away.
We expect our daughters to have an evening dress.
We cheerfully assume that some decent men will be voted into public office.
We know that veterans can get a GI loan, and assume that, with it, one of them will start a future at U. S. Steel.
Another will marry, and produce an Edison, a Jefferson, a Carver.
We take for granted that we will not be shot, imprisoned, or have our everything confiscated that our children will live to grow up.
What we forget every day, moment, is our own history.
That it was not entirely to give us these ties that men stayed on at Valley Forge for 22 cents a day; that Lincoln did the fine, unpopular thing, unwaveringly; that over 56,000 men died in prison camps alone between 1861 and '64; that later, half a million men lay down their blood on foreign soil.
It was not to guarantee us ice cream and radios that women bore children during Indian attacks, were partners in the great pioneering sweep to the West.
It is good to remember what our simple right to vote cost other human beings.
Perhaps they had no thought of us; they were concerned with making their America. But what they made is what we have.
To take this heritage, unthinkingly, for granted is a first step to losing it.
Adapted from the Readers Digest, April, 1948