Christmas is just what we needed. Maybe more so this year than usual. This has been one tough year for America. Celebration of the birth of the baby Jesus still provides the hope of the world and re-focuses attention on the need for faith in our future.

Christmas is a time of love, a time for re-commitment with prayers in the quest for world peace, as called for by Augusta’s new mayor Dave Rollins at the final Augusta City Council meeting of the year.

As another Christmas, enjoyed by family and friends, passes into our personal histories, we now must look forward once again, to a new year.

2015 presents challenges never seen before. Peace here and abroad starts in the hearts and souls of good men and women everywhere. Since the beginning of time, however, one particular characteristic — courage — has been the underpinning of leadership for the free world.

So, let’s talk about courage. “We Americans of today, together with our allies, are passing through a period of supreme test. It is a test of courage, of our resolve, of our wisdom, of our essential democracy,” said President Franklin D. Roosevelt in his final inaugural address in 1945.

When challenged by our leadership, the American people have never come up short in the matter of providing courage for the cause, for the continuing fight for freedom. For 238 years, we have responded when rallied to the cause by outstanding, fearless leadership.

Where is that leadership now? America has become an apologist nation. We have gone from the days of the “malaise” of Jimmy Carter to the embarrassment of a president and administration apologizing for America to the world.

There is an astonishing lack of courage on display when our president, appearing before the United Nations, seeks to ascribe many of the ills of the world to America’s transgressions, as he sees them.

We needed Christmas to pause and to recoup our strength of conviction that America has nothing to apologize for; instead, we are still the hope for all nations that fight to attain or keep their freedom. Weakness has never been a successful formula for leadership. Unless this country regains its strength in leadership and resolve, and does so quickly, then I fear for the future of this great country.

In an unbelievably short period of time, our leadership has failed to support the rule of law and those who protect us by enforcing it here at home. That failure may have resulted Dec. 20 in the assassination of two police officers in New York City. Meanwhile, across the world, we surrender to near extortion and succumb to negotiations with terrorists and dictators. Something we have said that we would never do.

But perhaps the least courageous act was to throw the CIA “under the bus,” while proclaiming the U.S. is responsible for allowing “torture.” Enhanced interrogation techniques became necessary in the wake of 9/11, with the murder of 3,000 innocent civilians in New York, and the imminent follow-up threat of additional acts of terrorism on our homeland. The interrogation techniques were ordered by President George W. Bush, declared lawful and approved by the Department of Justice and may have saved us from destruction then and since.

After listening to two different interviews of former Vice President Dick Cheney, on this subject, I believe it is obvious that our actions were necessary and that they stopped short of murder — unlike our terrorist adversaries. I believe those actions are no reason to attempt to embarrass ourselves several years later, throughout the world.

We did what we had to do, and, in view of subsequent acts of terrorism such as the recent murder of 140 innocent school children in Pakistan, we were justified in our interrogation techniques at a time when America’s very existence hung in the balance.

Isn’t it ironic that Cheney, one of the most vilified and misunderstood politicians of recent time, is the most convincing and formidable defender of America today. This man, who was his president’s chief adviser on matters of foreign policy and on our defense against terrorism, is still a man of extraordinary courage.

Cheney, who may have providentially survived heart and health problems, in order to provide the support and advice that his president and our country needed, eventually will stand in history as a great example of the courage needed at a time of extreme peril.

What this country needs is a new patriot, another Dick Cheney, a courageous leader who will assume command in calling us all to the task at hand. America has nothing to apologize for, unless we turn our backs on the history of our leadership for the free world. That must not happen! The Spirit of 1776 will rise again.

Happy New Year to all courageous people everywhere.

Don Roberts, a former city councilor and former vice chairman of the Charter Commission in Augusta, is a trustee of the Greater Augusta Utility District.