Friday, July 4, 2008

Independence Day and Patriotism

It is a lovely morning in the Black Hills, home of Mt Rushmore. For your viewing pleasure I have here a sampling of the fireworks display at Mt Rushmore last night. Taciturn and I watched it on TV but could hear it from 20 miles away.

That brings to mind some of my thoughts on me as citizen of the United States and on patriotism.

First off, this nation has been good to me. When my father became ill in the 1960s and no longer could support his large family, there was a safety net that kept the family off of the streets and me, ten years old, out of child sex rings. (I recognize now that is how many families are kept afloat throughout the world.) Between the government and the largess of my paternal grandfather, we continued to have a place to live, food to eat, and clothes on our backs. When it came time for me to go to college, there remained (unlike now) financial aid plus private scholarships. Otherwise, I would have worked in the same factory in which my mom worked for just over minimum wage, and would have lost my job to overseas interests in the 1980s. The way it worked out, I have more than repaid the government in taxes and productivity than was invested in me.

And oh by the way, I paid our nation back another way--by service. My service was in the military, as a Nurse Corps officer, for ten years on active duty and four years in the reserves. I was called to active duty during the first Gulf War, which was a bit of a hardship as I was a single parent at the time. I flew my mom out to where I lived for the time I was gone so I would not have to pull my son out of school and disrupt his life even more. It worked out very well for me, but I knew of other situations where it didn't. But one has to do what one must.

I would not have been available to serve my nation as a member of the military if my family had been left to fend for itself when my father became ill, or been as productive a citizen as I have been if I had been denied an education due to my family's lack of income. Again, not only myself but all four of my brothers have served our nation in the military and in useful work. Without the assistance of the government in pursuing an education, who knows how we would have fared? I am incensed by the waste of human potential propagated by our current administration.

Now, I realize and acknowledge gratefully the service to our nation those who had not been associated with the military. There are many ways in which to serve, the military being only one. For that reason, I cannot and will not rank anything I've done higher than that of a community organizer, for example. We are not all called to one way of service. As Paul says, there are many members of the body and we cannot say with hubris that our part is better than another.

Definitions of patriotism--of our candidates for the Presidency, I like Senator Obama's version of service to others. McCain's version is not one I can stomach. I cannot, as a Christian, say that my nation comes before all else. When my nation is wrong, I will not back it. There once was a time when such was considered loyal dissent. Now, it is considered treason. When people who have lost limbs in the service of this country are called traitors when they become Democrats, there is something very wrong. And we will pay for the lack of self criticism we have seen.

T presently is watching 1776 on the DVD, which he does each Independence Day. The irony of the situation is not lost on me. You push a nation like we are pushed now, and they will rebel. We have to change our current path by election or we will change it another way, like it or not.

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