Old Patriot's Pen

Personal pontifications of an old geezer born 200 years too late.

NOTE The views I express on this site are mine and mine alone. Nothing I say should be construed as being "official" or the views of any group, whether I've been a member of that group or not. The advertisings on this page are from Google, and do not constitute an endorsement on my part.

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Location: Colorado Springs, Colorado, United States

I've been everywhere That was the title of a hit country-and-western song from the late 1950's, originally sung by Hank Snow, and made famous by Johnny Cash. I resemble that! My 26-year career in the Air Force took me to more than sixty nations on five continents - sometimes only for a few minutes, other times for as long as four years at a time. In all that travel, I also managed to find the perfect partner, help rear three children, earn more than 200 hours of college credit, write more than 3000 reports, papers, documents, pamphlets, and even a handful of novels, take about 10,000 photographs, and met a huge crowd of interesting people. I use this weblog and my personal website here to document my life, and discuss my views on subjects I find interesting.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

These People Call Themselves "Americans"?

A political group known as the "International Freedom Center" want to decide what is a fitting memorial for those killed at Ground Zero, the World Trade Center, on September 11, 2001. They feel their ideas "best represent the lessons learned here". Their idea is to establish a memorial "shrine of shame" depicting the worst of American and Americans. Yet Ground Zero illustrated profusely the BEST of what Americans are, and what being an American means (and has meant for 200+ years).

I have a pretty good idea, based on my own experience and what I've heard from the previous generation, of what being an "American" is all about. I think most of the mental morons on the Left not only don't know, but are afraid to find out.

I grew up in a small rural area in central Louisiana. My parents moved back there after a tornado destroyed my grandparents' house and killed at least one of their children. Dad had always set aside his life to help his parents - this wasn't the first time, but the third. I benefitted as much as they did. I grew up among friends and relatives, people of different ages, and people who'd lived through ten times as much as I would.

My family is descended from Scottish Highlanders who came to the Georgia Colony in 1735 to help James Oglethorpe secure his colony. My ancestors fought on both sides of the Revolutionary War, and a handful moved to the Bahamas after the Colonies won independence. My direct ancestor, a Creek warrior, tried to keep a bunch of hotheads stirred up by Cherokee braves from killing everyone they could during the War of 1812. My family's roots are evident all across the South, from Georgia and South Carolina to Texas and Oklahoma. There are dozens of Native American ties, not only in our primary lineage, but throughout both sides of my family tree.

Dad was a grown man during most of the Depression. He regularly quit school to help support his family. It took him eight years to graduate from high school - at age 22. He had a chance to go to college, free. He turned it down because he still had to help his parents support their growing family.

My parents both served in the military during World War II: Dad in the Army in Europe, Mom in the Navy in Washington, DC. Dad was part of the 9th Artillery Regiment that distinguished itself as part of Patton's Third Army. Mom decrypted Japanese Naval code for three years.

My mother took me to church at the local Baptist church until she began working when I was 12. After that, I usually went with my grandmother who lived next door. I went to the same school, Tioga High School, for twelve years, from first grade through graduation. I learned to hunt, fish, raise a garden, and lend a helping hand, at an early age. I also learned other things as well - to care for and defend those younger, less fortunate, or significantly older than myself. I learned that there's no shame in being poor, only in ACTING poor. I also learned that there was a massive difference between being poor financially and being poor emotionally or spiritually.

After graduation from high school, I entered the military, three months before my 18th birthday. At 19, I married a wonderful young woman I met in Denver. By the time I turned 21, I was a father. The Air Force in its infinite wisdom sent me to Panama, Vietnam, Germany and England. On my own, I used those assignments to learn how others lived. I also took advantage of the military's educational opportunities. Today at age 58, I'm retired and disabled. There's not much of my life that I'm ashamed of, and I don't "blame" anyone for my physical problems. I'm not a "victim" - my physical disabilities were "earned" doing what had to be done in the easiest, fastest, best way possible. Sometimes military service and circumstances leaves you little choice other than to do whatever it takes to survive, or to die.

I'm proud of my life, and I'm proud of my family. I have great pride in my family's accomplishments, and forgiveness for their failures. In the end, each of them did their small part to make life better for their children than it had been for them. Along the way, many of them made life better for everyone, not just family. That's what being an "American" means - people working to make life better for themselves and their families, and thus for every citizen of our nation. It also means doing whatever it takes to help save lives, help rescue people and things, and help protect others from harm - the very things firemen and police officers lost their lives doing on 9/11. It means sacrifice when sacrifice is called for, and fighting to the last breath or bullet when there's no other option. It means standing tall when the flag passes, both in pride and humility for the deaths of those who kept that flag and the nation it represents alive and prosperous. It means passing on to our children that sense of duty, devotion, honor and humility that ties us all together, and to the generations before us.

It doesn't mean shame, it doesn't mean victimhood, and it doesn't mean defeat. Anyone who believes that's what it means to be an American doesn't have a clue.


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