There’s a story that began more than 2 centuries ago, a bold and impassioned story.

Men who find themselves caught up in this tale harness a kind of pride in this inheritance. It drives them to the edge of their abilities then strengthens them to carry on beyond what a man on his own might achieve. It comes in many forms, but you see this pride reflected every day in the simple words Made in USA. To some it’s only a mark, but to others those words engender a deep respect. They know behind the product is a maker adhering to the solid principles, character and integrity which lend prestige to the label. The makers give testament to a rich heritage, a history made by hand, forged in the hearts of common men with exceptional values.

Our narrative begins with the common man, for it is in his shadow we toil. There are rumors of this nation’s founding: a foundation built by lowly men upon whose backs we erected an empire of freedom and virtue.

They cobbled and farmed, brewed and built, using intellect and sweat to build a life for their families. They were unified, self-determined men strengthened by faith. Artisans, thinkers, craftsmen, makers, inventors, musicians, tinkerers and smiths, they knew their products would reveal their character – testaments to their devotion to constantly advancing their skills.

ABE_1324Father to son they introduced purpose to a man’s hands and set him on course. Thus they empowered not only his hands, but generated within him a hunger to create products which last, which outlast those that came before. Through his example of toiling and expanding his capabilities, craftsman passed on to craftsman the love of their labor and the knowledge of their craft.

Their hands trimmed the harvest of the loom, chiseled to shape stone, forged steel beside the heat of a furnace, built plows and walked behind them scattering seeds into turned soil. They understood sacrifice and service were required if they would see this land become the wonder they envisioned. They committed steadily and faithfully to the course, common men rising up to fill those places vacated by great men who went before them.

These craftsman were propelled by purpose.

They tinkered for the sake of sharpening their minds, as much as the world around them – a scientific study contained within their focus. For their fellow man they continued to expand the breadth of their crafts, in an ongoing competition to create the best each field had to offer, striving to produce more food, cures for diseases, and solutions to countless obstacles.

ABE_8817The common man’s principles made quality of character a priority displayed in their work. The tools of their many trades were vast but their goods were witness to the same driving force: the hammer shapes steel, but humility shapes the man. They learned the fundamental lesson that in order to make a great product one must first grasp the principles of greatness. Their commitment to integrity was a virtuous heritage, held-fast like an heirloom from the generations before. Each could look back and see a great man.

The great man is our heritage, for within each of us there is an inkling of the same passions which drove him. We possess some of his character, and share in the same diligence, the same traits and the same callings. The great man is not only a distant relative, he is a part of what makes us men. He is the common man.

Complacency and ignorance seek to crumble the legacy built by men who toiled and died to preserve it. It is now our duty to keep the values we posses near our hearts, and the craft that flows from our hands near our minds. For it’s not what a man creates but what creates a man that is the key to preserving this history. We are the common man, for we carry the hereditary American achievement. It is this common man who moves the gears of this nation’s machine. It was the common man, and his exceptionalism – his will to be greater than himself by embracing what was handed down to him and pushing himself to make it something more – that planted the seeds of our Heritage.