Friday, August 29, 2008

Try a little Patriotism on for size

I recently read this and it struck a chord. These words were spoken back in the 80's by, in my opinion, one of the greatest President's the US will ever see. Whether you are Republican or Democrat or don't know or don't care, I would think that if you are an American you would agree with this bit of his farewell speech. If you are an American then I would hope that you have some pride about it and realize what a priveledged person you truly are. I think pride in our nation is something that people have lost and that saddens me a great deal. You can blame it on the President or the Politicians because you say they haven't given you anything to be proud of lately. But honestly, the only person who you can blame is yourself because you have allowed yourself to lose sight of the greatness of this amazing country we live in. You have lost hope in the people. You have forgotten what this nation was built on and what it stands for. You can be apart in bringing all of those things back if you so choose. I challenge you to do so.
You know, I miss the speeches that brought inspiration and hope. All we seem to get now are the ones that tear others down and build the candidate up. How about building up the country and the American people? What happened to that?
I hope and pray that as this year's election approaches that you will seek the truth about the candidates. That you will vote for the man that is striving to better the nation as a whole, not looking to simply promote themselves. Cast your ballot for the man who is proud to be an American.
I hope this little portion of this incredible speech inspires you as it did me.
"An informed patriotism is what we want. And are we doing a good enough job teaching our children what America is and what she represents in the long history of the world? Those of us who are over 35 or so years of age grew up in a different America. We were taught, very directly, what it means to be an American. And we absorbed, almost in the air, a love of country and an appreciation of its institutions. If you didn't get these things from your family, you got them from the neighborhood, from the father down the street who fought in Korea or the family who lost someone at Anzio. Or you could get a sense of patriotism from school. And if all else failed, you could get a sense of patriotism from popular culture. The movies celebrated democratic values and implicitly reinforced the idea that America was special. TV was like that, too, through the mid-'60s
But now, we're about to enter the '90s, and some things have changed. Younger parents aren't sure that an unambivalent appreciation of America is the right thing to teach modern children. And as for those who create the popular culture, well-grounded patriotism is no longer the style. Our spirit is back, but we haven't reinstitutionalized it. We've got to do a better job of getting across that America is freedom--freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of enterprise. And freedom is special and rare. It's fragile; it needs protection.
So, we've got to teach history based not on what's in fashion but what's important: Why the Pilgrims came here, who Jimmy Doolittle was, and what those 30 seconds over Tokyo meant. You know, four years ago on the 40th anniversary of D-Day, I read a letter from a young woman writing of her late father, who'd fought on Omaha Beach. Her name was Lisa Zanatta Henn, and she said, "We will always remember, we will never forget what the boys of Normandy did." Well, let's help her keep her word. If we forget what we did, we won't know who we are. I'm warning of an eradication of the American memory that could result, ultimately, in an erosion of the American spirit. Let's start with some basics: more attention to American history and a greater emphasis on civic ritual. And let me offer lesson No. 1 about America: All great change in America begins at the dinner table. So, tomorrow night in the kitchen I hope the talking begins. And children, if your parents haven't been teaching you what it means to be an American, let 'em know and nail 'em on it. That would be a very American thing to do."
Ronald Reagan

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

52 Sundays

It was as if suddenly a light came on in my mind as I looked up from my seat in the living room at the dining room table. There sat 4 woman eating Sunday dinner as they always do. Why it didn't hit me sooner I don't know. They gathered as normal--dishing up the plates for the children, then serving themselves. I went to sit in the adjacent living room so that there would be room at the table as I usually do. But this time, when I looked up from my plate, I saw a very different setting. Each female was missing a partner. We were a house full of mainly woman this afternoon. It had happened before, but this time it seemed much more empty.

My heart sank as I looked at these 4 brave woman. Their husbands have been gone on several Sundays but this one was different. This Sunday was the first of 52 consectutive Sundays they would be gone.

I've been in denial for the past year about the boys leaving for training and then on to Iraq. Oh sure, I wrote about the day they got their letters and I've remembered them on patriotic holidays. And I knew they were going, but I think that I just pushed the thought aside thinking that I could actually push the time away.

My mother measures time in Sundays. Anytime I was gone for weeks at a time she would count the Sundays rather than other days because that is when we all gather together. Sunday is when you realize someone is missing. I guess that's why it hit me so hard this day when I looked up to see the remaining 4.

Their strength inspires me, these young wives and mothers, who have now taken on the father role as well. They will be the disciplinarian as well as the carer of scraped knees. They will cook the meals and take out the trash. They will tell the bedtime stories and check the closet for monsters. They will tuck the tiny ones into their beds and tell them everything will be alright and then go to their own beds and pray that it really will. For the next 52 Sundays, they will dine at the table alone, together.

It's going to be tough. There is no doubt about that. There will tears, worry, great fear, and at time anger at the absence of our boys. We will wish they didn't have to miss babies births and anniversaries. We will wish they could be here for holidays. We will wish they could be here for Sunday dinner.

But we will also realize how blessed we truly are to have one another to lean on and to have an already existing support group like we have.

We will count down the Sundays together. We will continue to gather and hold eachother up. We will make sure we laugh together and if need be, cry together. We will pray that God holds our boys safe in His loving arms and that He gives us the comfort that only He can give.

I don't think that I will ever get used to seeing the 4 empty chairs. And I know that their wives and children won't. And I'm thankful that we don't have to.

That is when I thank God and remember, it's only 52 Sundays--1 down, just 51 to go.