An underlying principle

Published 11:43 am Thursday, September 7, 2017

Did you know that September 7 is a special day? It is Uncle Sam’s birthday!

On Sept. 7, 1813, the War of 1812 between the United States and Great Britain was moving toward an end. American troops needed supplies, and the American government acted to meet that need.

On behalf of the government, Samuel Wilson, a meat packer from Troy, N.Y., shipped barrels of beef to the American troops. Instead of stamping “United States” on the barrels, Wilson shortened it to “U.S.” and stamped that on the barrels.

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In a short time, the soldiers began to call food from those barrels “Uncle Sam’s” and a tradition—now two hundred four years old — was born.

The main function of government, as defined by the Constitution of the United States, is to “insure domestic tranquility” and “provide for the common defense.”

Therefore, the government can call citizens into service, and while they are in service, that government must meet their needs.

While in the service of the country and after that service is rendered, those who serve and have served can expect “Uncle Sam” to supply their basic needs.

Charity has been at the heart of our society in western civilization for two thousand years. It has given us a principle: it is imperative that if we have the resources and see someone in need we must, out of compassion, act to meet that need.

But things are changing. We are rapidly becoming a welfare society with its hand out looking to Uncle Sam to supply all needs.

One report says that 109,630,000 persons, 34.5 percent of the population of the United States, receive benefits from the federal government.

Charity that meets human need is an underlying principle in our society, but a hand extended merely to receive is another thing.

For 2,000 years, it has been axiomatic that “if any man will not work, he shall not eat.” It is an underlying principle that charity and responsibility go hand in hand.

Howard Coop is a retired minister, author and religion columnist that contributes regularly to The Jessamine Journal and other newspapers. He resides in Lancaster and can be reached at