We are America.

 

I grew up in the Vietnam War/Post Vietnam War era. I saw firsthand the
ugliness that came from a movement that targeted those who wanted to
serve their country (or were compelled to do so) in a time when
protestors cast blame on rather than honored them. What a terrible
and misdirected anger. I can remember looking in horror at sketches
in Reader's Digest of the torture that was going on in the POW camps.
In Sunday School, I begged God to deliver these men from their
captivity. The tragic contrast of this with the protests against
these returning heroes was evident, even at the young age of 7 or 8.
To my knowledge, I only knew one Vietnam Vet. I can remember, shyly,
going to him and saying, “Thank you for going to Vietnam”. His
response was to look at the ground, mumble a word of thanks and pat
me on the shoulder before walking away. Thinking back on that, I
imagine it must have felt strange and uncomfortable for him,
especially coming from a child. My intentions were good, but my
delivery was likely poor.

I had the opportunity on Sunday to watch several professional football
games. The league had planned well with Veteran's Day being this
week. It was nice. There were a lot of tributes, many commercials and
digital desert camouflage was everywhere. One of the commercials
showed several pictures of ordinary people going about their daily
routines. It made a comment about Veterans wearing a different kind
of camouflage and being even more difficult to spot.

How very true this is.

National patriotic holidays tend to focus on those currently serving in the
military – and I see nothing wrong with this. They are young,
strong, healthy and standing proud in crisp uniforms. My friend
Saila, a new member of the US Navy, told of walking through an
airport and being spoken to and thanked for her service. I think this
is a great place to be as a nation. Our collective mood has shifted
since the early 1970's. These young people deserve our praise and
thanks. They walk the well worn path of generations of American
military veterans. These patriots served from Iwo Jima to Inchon.
From Khe Sanh to Beirut. From Granada to Kuwait. From Mogadishu to
Kabul. We are and continue to be the Land of the Free and the Home of
the Brave because of these young Americans and they are a
continuation of the unimaginable courage displayed by those who went
before them. I am grateful for each and every one.

We are about to enter an election year. It will, once more, be a time of
division. Us. Them. They...and other words that will divide and
demonize those who dare to oppose a certain way of thinking. It will
not be good. There will be no unity and I am already dreading it.

I can't do anything about an election year, except choose to not
participate in the hatefulness of it. I will live my life and will do
so in a world that is of my creation. Differences should be
discussed, but it does not have to be done in such spiteful ways.

I love my country and my fellow Americans. There are parts of our
history that I am not proud of, but we become “America the
Beautiful” when we overcome and join together. We are family and
while there may be struggles that occur, they happen within the
structure of our family.

We are America. We have repeatedly sent our sons and daughters to
foreign lands. Many have not returned to us. America is not just our
home, it is an ideal. Those who advocate closing all borders should
remember that we are a land of immigrants and the original
inhabitants did not invite us in. Those who argue that we should not
be investing so heavily in our military, should consider the dangers
of our world. All should remember that it is our sons and daughters
who will be enforcing and dying because of whichever policy our
elected officials decide on.

The job of our military is to kill people and to break things. That's it.
It is not a place for social experiments. They aren't “peace”
keepers. Their job is not to police. War is a terrible thing and we
should only engage in it if we have an unwavering dedication and full
acceptance of the terrible cost of victory. The fact that politicians
- many who have never put a US military uniform on - are making these
life and death decisions, should trouble us all.

11-11-15 is Veteran's Day. There are many weighty issues to contemplate, but
there are many thanks to be given as well. At Bob's, each year we
treat our veterans with a meal. It's a small thing that we do, but it
is an honor. I have developed many friendships from this and I
cherish each one.

Thank you Vet. Your friendship means so much to me. Your honorable service
is greatly appreciated. Your willingness to sacrifice will not be
forgotten. Many served overseas during wartime. Others served
stateside during peace. It doesn't matter to me. You are, each one,
my hero.

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