Yesterday was the Independence Day, the 4th of July. As far as I can remember it is the first time I have been out of the country on Independence Day, though I may have been in Kuwait for one in 1997 but I can not remember when I was actually there. I know it was hot and all the animals either wanted to kill you or them selves. But I digress.
What I really want to talk about is personal Patriotism.
The patriotism we should all embrace. I joined the military out of patriotism. Sadly, when my drill instructor asked my basic training flight why we joined, I was the only one who raised his hand to the question, “who joined to serve their country” The rest raised their hands for “to pay for college” and for “had no other options but to work at McDonalds”. That truly saddened me to think that out of 50 or more people, I was the only one who wanted to serve my country and not doing it out of necessity. I have not lost my patriotic drive and can accurately be accused of loving my country blindly. I used to think the good old US of A was perfect and anyone who said differently was an idiot.
I have changed a lot over the years since 9/11. I have been driven to understand why the US is so hated and have learned that there are some good reasons people might hate America. We get involved everywhere and sometimes meddle where we shouldn’t. We do things half assed sometimes and leave people hanging, i.e. Vietnam, Iraq 1991, Afghanistan in the 80/90s just to name a few. In Vietnam we went to war half assed after the French had already lost a war there. In Iraq we called for the Shiites to stand up against Saddam and we would have their back, but we didn’t. In Afghanistan we supported them against the Russian and when they won, we turned off all support which allowed for Osama and the Taliban to take over. It is important to know that Osama and the Taliban were not in control of government after the communists were kicked out; Ahmad Shah Massoud led his soldiers into Kabul first. We were too focused on the collapse of Russia to realize that leaving this fledgling country to its infighting would leave us with 9/11 and other attacks.
These are just a few examples of America’s mistakes and we can list a whole lot more if we wanted too. For all of America’s mistakes, we still do a lot more good then we do bad. The gist of it is that America is the big dog, the Super Power, the boss. No one likes the boss, but he is the one you turn to when the shit hits the fan and you need help. He is also the one who gets blamed when things go wrong. America gets blamed for interfering in one country and blamed for not interfering in another. Somalia is touted by some as an example of American imperialism in Africa and in the same breath America is blamed for the deaths in Darfur for not intervening. You just can not win. All we, as Americans, can do is hope that our good deeds are truly good and not expect to be rewarded for them. We also need to recognize when our attempts at good fall short.
Our forefathers built this country with the belief that all men are created equal. In their time, that did not include women or men of color. Over time that has changed, all Americans are created equal and free. We should strive to maintain those truths. The world likes to point out that America was built on the destruction of Indians and on the backs of Africans. Those comments are undeniable though the severities of each are arguable. History shows us that no country or society is free of misdeeds, but it is the learning from those misdeeds and striving for a freer more tolerant society that should be our goal.
I love my country and would gladly lay down my life fighting for what it stands for. This should not make me a rarity but just another American amongst 300 million other Americans who feel the same way. You do not have to like everything about your country, just like a family you may not agree with everyone in it, but you stick by family through think and thin. I hope our day of Independence brought you to reflect on why you live in America and if it didn’t then I ask you to ponder why you stay in America or why it would be better to live somewhere else.
If you have lasted this long and finished reading this meandering hodge podge of a post, I ask you to leave a comment on why you are or are not a patriot.