January 31, 2018
Last night, President Trump turned his first State of the Union Address into an American pep rally. Cheering the American people for helping one another overcome a year of natural and man-made tragedies, the president cast a winning vision of unity.
“We endured floods and fires and storms,” the president said in the opening of his address. “But through it all, we have seen the beauty of America’s soul, and the steel of America’s spine.” The president even gave a shout-out to the Cajun Navy. “We saw the volunteers of the ‘Cajun Navy,’ racing to the rescue with their fishing boats to save people in the aftermath of a devastating hurricane.”
This may seem like a throwaway line, but like so much in the president’s remarkable speech last night, it was an affirmation of the “American way,” which as President Trump said last night, we are rediscovering. Throughout the speech, Trump pointed not to the government as the key to solving America’s problems, but to our faith in God and one another.
“In America, we know that faith and family, not government and bureaucracy, are the center of the American life. Our motto is “in God we trust,” the president affirmed
This speech was a sea-change from the previous president in that it celebrated all things American. “…We celebrate our police, our military, and our amazing veteran as heroes who deserve our total and unwavering support.” But what made this speech one of the most remarkable addresses I’ve heard from the House chamber is the way the president wove in powerful, accounts of heroism, sacrifice, patriotism, compassion, and commitment. Two such accounts were the actions of Albuquerque Police Officer Ryan Holets and North Korean-born Ji Seong-ho.
As the president shared last night:
“…Ryan was on duty when he saw a pregnant, homeless woman preparing to inject heroin. When Ryan told her she was going to harm her unborn child, she began to weep. She told him she did not know where to turn, but badly wanted a safe home for her baby. In that moment, Ryan said he felt God speak to him: ‘You will do it -- because you can.’ He took out a picture of his wife and their four kids. Then, he went home to tell his wife Rebecca. In an instant, she agreed to adopt. The Holets named their new daughter Hope.”
Several powerful messages were conveyed to the American people as Officer Ryan and his wife stood in the gallery to the applause of Congress. First, in the two and half minutes that the president highlighted the compassion of Officer Holets, the last eight years of hostility towards law enforcement that's been fomented by statements and actions from Washington officially ended.
Even more powerful was the message of the sanctity of life that has become a hallmark of the Trump administration. This affirmation of life was not missed by the pro-abortion crowd. Tweeting in response, Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards said, “If the government won’t change, WE will change the government. Like never before, women are the most powerful political force in this country. Together, we are going to transform America into the country we know it can be.”
The reality is that President Obama already took us to that point with his pro-abortion agenda and the American people rejected it.
But there was more communicated through Officer Holets, a very subtle, but compelling endorsement of religious freedom. It was Holets’s faith -- on the job -- that caused him to reach out with compassion to this homeless, drug-addicted, pregnant mom.
This is America at its best. This is religious freedom!
Picking up on the power of faith, President Trump shared the story of Mr. Ji Seong-ho:
“In 1996, Seong-ho was a starving boy in North Korea. One day, he tried to steal coal from a railroad car to barter for a few scraps of food. In the process, he passed out on the train tracks, exhausted from hunger. He woke up as a train ran over his limbs. He then endured multiple amputations without anything to dull the pain.
The president continued:
“Later, he was tortured by North Korean authorities after returning from a brief visit to China. His tormentors wanted to know if he had met any Christians. He had -- and he resolved to be free.
Seong-ho traveled thousands of miles on crutches across China and Southeast Asia to freedom. Most of his family followed. His father was caught trying to escape, and was tortured to death.
Today he lives in Seoul, where he rescues other defectors, and broadcasts into North Korea what the regime fears the most - the truth. Today he has a new leg, but Seong-ho, I understand you still keep those crutches as a reminder of how far you have come. Your great sacrifice is an inspiration to us all. Seong-ho's story is a testament to the yearning of every human soul to live in freedom.”
I’m not easily impressed with political speeches, but the president's address to the nation last night was indeed impressive. The message was clear. To use the president’s words, “Together, we are rediscovering the America way.” Faith, family, and freedom!
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.