Question: What qualities in particular made the American patriots so great?

Sri Chinmoy: The American patriots were great not because they felt that it was beneath their dignity to remain under the jurisdiction of the British, but because they felt that deep within them they had some truly divine spiritual qualities which could easily be brought to the fore. And when these divine qualities were brought to the fore, they felt that not only they would derive infinite benefit and profit from them, but that the whole world would derive benefit. The self-giving of the Founding Fathers was the wish not merely to come out from under the British yoke, but for something higher and deeper. True, first they had to be free from British authority, leadership and guidance. But they had something deeper in the inmost recesses of their hearts that they wanted to express, a higher truth that they wanted to manifest. They wanted to show that their liberty was not only for them to use but for the whole world to use. It was an ideal for the world to embrace, a real ideal in human progress that would stand among humanity's ultimate achievements.

These patriots who eventually became leaders of the country must be appreciated and admired infinitely more than the kings of Europe and other places in the world. Here they laboured and suffered and got the boon or result. When Washington was asked to become king, he did not want to become king. He knew what kings had done to his country. But it was not because of this that he refused to become king. He refused to become king because he only wanted to allow his name to be attached to something that he had worked for. He was willing to accept the presidency, although in fact he himself did not want to become president, because he had worked very hard for his country. He was ready to become leader of his country on the strength of his self-service and self-sacrifice for his country. In Europe if you are lucky enough to take birth in a palace, then no matter what kind of sacrifice you have made or what kind of mental capacity you have achieved, success is ready-made. Here in America it is not like that. You have to work very, very hard for what you achieve, but when you finally do achieve something, then the world appreciates you much more than those who succeed by virtue of being born into a particular family. Also, as individuals Americans get great joy in their achievements. How hard they have worked to become president! How hard they have worked to serve their country! When these people achieve something, they really value their achievement. If one becomes rich by his own work, he gets tremendous joy, whereas if he is born into the family of a multimillionaire, he will not get the same joy.

The American patriots were very noble souls. They never said they desired leadership, but God was moulding them for something. In their case, the word "God" was not uttered, but they spoke about "truth." Patriotism, if it is carried out properly, is truth. India's greatest patriot, Gandhi, said God and truth are the same. So, in the case of America, truth was the sole motivating force. But you have to know that practically every American president used the term "Almighty Father" in their inaugural addresses. The Almighty Father played His role in silence and in action in and through the leaders of America.