Man Without a Country

September 30, 2003

Early in the year 1805, secessionists tried to establish a separate government in some of the southern states.  The plot was discovered and the traitors were caught and tried for conspiracy against the United States government.  One of them was Philip Nolan, a U.S. Army officer.  During his trial, the president of the court asked Nolan whether he wished to say anything in his defense and show faith with the the United States.  Nolan replied, "Damn the United States!  I wish I may never hear of the United States again!"

He got his wish.  Nolan was sentenced to life imprisonment on a Navy ship with instructions that he should never set foot in this country, should never hear its name, and should receive no information about it.  As the years went by, Nolan's heart softened and he became a changed man.  He developed an intense love for the United States.

Philip Nolan died at sea.  A note with his last request was found in his Bible.  The note read: "Bury me in the sea, it has been my home and I love it.  But will not someone set up a stone for my memory at Fort Adams or at Orleans, that my disgrace may not be more than I ought to bear?  Say on it: 'In memory of Philip Nolan, lieutenant in the Army of the United States.  He loved his country as no other man has loved her; but no man deserves less at her hand.'"

Philip Nolan paid a high price for his act of treason.  We may not always agree with the policies and politics of our country and its government, but no man has the right to use violence against her.  A change in the course our great nation pursues can only come through the democratic process and by the mutual consent of the governed.  That requires each of us to actively participate in the process; to exercise our vote and, for some, to become leaders in our community, state, and nation.  That is love of country.

Love your country, gentlemen.  Serve her well.

Good night, gentlemen.