I was fortunate enough to grow up in the early years of television. As a young boy, I watched westerns and wholesome family shows that always depicted clean, positive, and virtuous behavior. Some of the family shows that I watched were The Andy Griffith Show, My Three Sons, Gomer Pyle U.S.M.C., The Dick Van Dyke Show, and Mister Ed.
One of the western TV shows that I watched and periodically think about had a one-word title: Branded. NBC launched the show in 1965, when I was eight years old. Even though Branded was a popular television show, it was canceled after only two seasons because Proctor and Gamble, the company that sponsored it, pulled the plug after the star of the show (Chuck Connors) refused to continue to make public appearances to promote the show.
The storyline for Branded was set during the post civil war years. The opening of every show displayed a large contingent of Union soldiers, some of whom were playing drums. Standing in front of the soldiers was the lead character, Jason McCord.
As the drums were playing, a senior officer walked up to McCord and ripped off the ornamental insignia that was sewn onto the shoulders of his military uniform. The officer then tore off each button of McCord’s uniform and then pulled McCord’s sword from its sheath, broke it over his knee, and threw it on the ground. McCord was then shown walking through the large, gated doors of the Army fort, with the doors closing behind him.
During the ritual in which McCord was stripped of his rank and kicked out of the Army, the theme song for the show played in the background:
All but one man died
There at Bitter Creek
And they say he ran away
Branded — marked with a coward’s shame
What do you do when you’re branded
And you know you’re a man
He was innocent
Not a charge was true
But the world would never know
Branded — scorned as the one who ran
What do you do when you’re branded
The backstory of McCord’s dishonorable discharge from the army was that before he was admitted into the Army, he was one of the top students at the United States Military Academy at West Point. While in the Army, McCord rose to the rank of Captain. His trouble began when he was the only survivor of the Battle of Bitter Creek. He was later accused of abandoning his men during the battle.
Each episode of the show had McCord showing up in a new town in the Wild West, only to find that in most instances, there were townspeople who were aware of his reputation as a coward who had been kicked out of the Army. In truth, McCord was a hero who while fighting valiantly in the Battle of Bitter Creek, was knocked unconscious and left for dead. When McCord woke up, all the men that he had fought with were dead.
Despite the unfair treatment and false charges that were leveled against McCord, his heroic nature stayed intact, and he continued to help and defend everyone who needed assistance.
The early to mid-1960s were great years to be a young boy in America. In the weekly TV shows where there was conflict, the heroic characters who were mistreated or wrongly accused always proved that they could rise above their unfortunate circumstances by following the age-old virtues of honesty, integrity, self-reliance, initiative, industriousness, perseverance, resilience, kindness, humility, and courage.
I thought about Branded and its main character Jason McCord recently while I was reading an article about the rioting and destruction of property that has been taking place in our major cities. It occurred to me that everything that has been going on in those cities — the violence against innocent bystanders, the harassment and abuse of police officers, the emptying of prisons and jails, the destruction of property — are the metaphorical equivalent of what happened to McCord in Branded.
What we are witnessing today are spoiled, morally corrupt, selfish, cowardly, “educated” punks who are attempting to strip away our history, security, and religious institutions. But just as the officer in Branded who stripped McCord of his reputation was not able to change his core values, the radicals who are attempting to tear apart our civilization will never be able to change the core values of what made America the greatest country on Earth.
Alexis de Tocqueville, a Catholic Frenchman and author of the book Democracy in America, was able to pinpoint what it was that made America great. Here’s what he said about our country after he spent six months in the United States during the 1830s, studying and observing the behavior and attitudes of the American people:
I sought for the greatness and genius of America in her commodious harbors and her ample rivers — and it was not there . . . in her fertile fields and boundless forests and it was not there . . . in her rich mines and her vast world commerce — and it was not there . . . in her democratic Congress and her matchless Constitution — and it was not there. Not until I went into the churches of America and heard her pulpits aflame with righteousness did I understand the secret of her genius and power. America is great because she is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, she will cease to be great.
America was and still is great because she is good. Her goodness has always come from the Judeo-Christian values that were the foundation upon which our country was established and built — values that have historical roots in both Judaism and Christianity.
If our mayors, governors, and other elected officials fail to take control of their cities by putting a stop to the attacks and destruction that are taking place, the good people of America — the ones who still have faith in Almighty God and pray to Him for guidance and grace — will come together and crush the rebellion that is spreading throughout our country.
But I’m afraid that if we are pushed to the point where we have to get involved in crushing this rebellion, we may end up in a civil war. Is there any way we can avoid the suffering and carnage that would result from a civil war? The answer to that question is yes, but there is only one way that we may be able accomplish the task without a major conflict. We must be willing to commit to at least doubling the time that we spend in prayer each day. My fear — and it is a legitimate fear — is that not enough people will be willing to make that commitment and follow through on it.
What would you rather do? Double your daily time praying or take part in a bloody conflict that could result in tens of thousands of deaths?