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The Library of Congress

As An Embodiment of The American Identity

The Library of Congress has a twofold purpose. The most obvious is that it serves as a highly effective and functional library for Members of Congress and the nation. The less obvious is that it serves as an artistic monument to Western civilization. Our focus is on the Library’s monumental and artistic functions.

The art and architecture of the Library of Congress have a story to be told that has yet to be told. Classical artistic content always has embedded in it intellectual content. And it is the purpose of this book to reveal that content.

The Soul of AMERICA:

Essays on the 4th of July



The major proposition of the Soul of America is that America consists in a set of beliefs—truths—that bind us together. It's what makes us Americans. And without that belief, no Constitution, no laws, no whatever, except the point of a sword, can keep us together. Truth has moral implications. But truth in American culture has become negotiable. Herein lies the real cultural crisis of America. 

John Gilligan has given us a book for the ages. This work is a compilation of essays he authored over several decades that were published in his local newspaper the Peoria Journal Star. The essays are reader-friendly, packed with historical facts and insights, and written by someone who clearly has great love for his country. The essays progress in three sections from the founding of our country, to our current cultural and political problems, to what it means to be a patriot in our country today. Gilligan is concerned that the American people have lost sight of the beliefs and principles that animate our Declaration of Independence. He discusses civic virtue and the common good. He notes that America is the first people in history to form a nation from a diversity of racial, ethnic, and religious groups under the motto, "E Pluribus Unum," unity in diversity, and with the underlying fundamental belief that "all men are created equal." But can this nation so conceived endure? In the second section of his book, Gilligan maps out the philosophical, cultural, and political changes that challenge America's survival: cultural relativism, spiritual cynicism, political apathy, self-indulgence, personal violence, racial and ethnic hatreds, and a general blurring of the distinction between right and wrong. He questions whether there is any longer a unity in the diversity and wonders whether we, as a country, have veered so far from our founders' lofty and noble precepts that we have passed the point of no return. He rejects this notion, however, and in the last section of his book Gilligan discusses what it means to be "patriotic" in today's society. He writes about the "American project," and argues that if America's problems are to be solved, the heavy lifting must start in the local communities. Each citizen must take responsibility for his or her actions if America is to thrive and continue to fulfill the goals and dreams of her founders. This is a wonderful little book that encourages us to reflect on the essence of America, the "great experiment" all of us are blessed to be a part of, and what we might do to keep America great. It is required reading for everyone who cares about the soul of America.

~Fredrick A. Bernardi

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