Guest Column: Be grateful for the American Patriot
In a Time Magazine article, Nancy Gibbs wrote an essay titled “Our Armies, Ourselves. How we treat our veterans says a lot about America’s character. These days it isn’t pretty.”
She describes graffiti written on a sentry’s post at Gibraltar.
“God and the soldier, all men adore; In time of danger and not before; When the danger is passed and all things righted, God is forgotten, and the soldier slighted.”
On the back of the memorial at the Clarksdale City Auditorium are the words, “For those who fought for it, life has a flavor the protected will never know.”
I write of two American patriots.
The military man and woman is the story of the first American patriot.
General Douglas McArthur wrote (paraphrased), “The story is one of the American Soldier. To be one is the birthright of every American. In his love and loyalty for God, country, and family, he gives all that human life can give. He has written our history in foreign lands. From Corrigedor to Khe Sahn; from Bellieu Woods to Panama; from Inchon to Baghdad, American men and women have guaranteed our freedom here at home.”
“From one end of the world to the other, the American Soldier,” continues McArthur, “has drained deep the cup of courage. The American Soldier forever advances on to his objective, and for many, to the judgment seat of God. We do not know the dignity of his birth,” he finishes, “but we know the glory of his death.”
With their blood they have stained the soils of Tarawa, Kasserine Pass, Hamburger Hill, Pusan, and Fallujah. With their sweat they built bridges between cultures; with their tears, they held the children and buried the dead starved by fanatic dictators.
They go to war to fight for their country, secure freedom, or because their fathers did before them. They fought the battles for the guy on their left and on their right.
A second story of the American Patriot is the veteran. She drops a tear each time the flag is raised or he heard the call of country before country ever called.
She is the Mother who mourns her son. Between his high school diploma and Purple Heart she dusts a picture of him every day.
The American Patriot is the wife who takes her children to school each morning, goes to work, pays the bills, and goes to sleep at night, wondering when she will lay next to her soldier/husband again and what he will be like when he returns.
He is the father who proudly tells anyone who will listen, “My daughter graduated high school last year. Last week she drove a Humvee into Afghanistan.”
The American Patriots are the sons and daughters of soldiers, sailors, marines, and airmen who know only that Mommy or Daddy are in some distant country protecting the lives of children just like them.
They sacrifice for us. Because they are American patriots who heeded the words of President John Kennedy “to bear any burden, pay any price, support any friend, oppose any foe to insure the place of liberty”.
They bear the burden of wars long after the peace is signed and the troops are home. For them, life does indeed have a flavor the protected will never know.
Running through their lives is a thread that connects God, Country, Family. They know that without God, there is no country, and without country there is no place to raise a family in peace. To be an American Patriot one must be willing to sacrifice to preserve our way of life to worship God, honor country, and raise a family.
The American Patriot chooses to give up the trappings of the good life to secure for us the values of what makes life good.
For all of them duty, honor, and country are the flavors of life. For many of us, we will never know their sacrifice; we will never truly taste the flavors of life they have won for us.
We are the protected and we owe them our gratitude. There will always be a land of freedom because there are free men, women, and children who courageously volunteer to wear the mantle of an American patriot.
They are our neighbors, coworkers, and friends. They preserved our birthright to worship God, honor country, and raise our families in peace.
President John Kennedy used the Gibraltar quote when he addressed the First Armored Division who were moving into a secret position during the Cuban Missile Crisis. “This country does not forget God or the soldier. Upon both, we now depend.”
Remember them, those who have drained the cup of courage and those still grieving or waiting for the one they’ve lost. For you and me and our families, they have volunteered to take the field of battle. Be grateful they live among us.