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article imageOp-Ed: One At A Time

By Mark L Harvey     Dec 8, 2007 in Politics
American Patriotism. What is it and how can it be defined? And, where do we get such men? There will be a multitude of answers and a plethora of railing diatribes, some of which may or not include the phrase, "stupid people with guns".
Rochelle Reed, is an editor for the Tribune of San Luis Obispo, CA., relatively close to San Francisco. On October 19, 2007, she published an article or, better said, an essay about her son's change of heart resulting in his decision to enlist in the United States Army. He enlisted in September of 2005. "This was definitely not the way things were supposed to turn out," Mrs. Reed writes.
No, Mrs Reed, when does life ever turn out the way we wished? Life is not fair and since when has it been predictable?
Having read this article by Mrs Reed many times now, I sit with keyboard and monitor, reflecting on my own service to the United States of America and now, my eldest son's service. He too is in Iraq serving with the 101st Airborne Screaming Eagles (Air Assault), his life's dream and ambition. Military service runs deep in our family history.
The dread my parents felt is the same dread I now face and, as Mrs Reed expresses her fears and concerns, I sense a major difference between us. Patriotism.
Her essay is tastefully written but I found it offensive in that the "stupid people with guns" ramblings are embedded deeply into the text in a number of places. One would think that she reads any number of anti-military writers such as Whitney Brown.
I have no sympathy towards Mrs Reed nor animosity...I can only feel pity for her because she does not understand The Calling. Listen as she reveals her inner thoughts and how an entire American Generation has been lost;
Never in a million years did I imagine my son would join the Army. Nor did Evan. In high school, he'd hang up on recruiters who called the house. He'd blurt, "Get away from me!" to the ones who trawled the local hangouts. Our home was liberal Democrat and anti-war and now, at 21, he was a Michael Moore fan. The night before he left, he spent his time reading "Stupid White Men." . . .
When I tell people that Evan has joined the Army, their reactions are almost always the same: their faces freeze, they pause way too long, and then they say, "I'm so sorry, I'm so sorry for you." I hang my head and look mournful, accepting their sympathy for the worry that lives in me. But as it dawns on them that Evan wasn't drafted, as Vietnam still clings to my generation, their expressions become quizzical, then disbelieving. I know what they're thinking: Why in the world would any kid in his right mind choose to enlist when we're in the middle of a war? I begin telling them the story, desperate to assure them it wasn't arrogant patriotism or murderous blood lust that convinced him to join. What finally hooked him was a recruiter's comment that if he thought the country's role in Iraq was so screwed up, he should try to fix it.
To get the entire gist of her despair, the entire essay must be read not once or twice but many times. Then and only then can the message we must shout from the rooftops be understood.
My intent of this article is not to destroy Mrs Reed's sentiments...they seem sincere and they are what they are. My intent is also not meant to belittle her fears nor tear her premise apart. My intent is to reeducate those that feel the way Mrs Reed does. You see, we are of the same generation but I took a differing path.
The reeducation process begins with the exposing of the well known rhetoric that permeates the modern American "liberal Democrat and antiwar" subculture which she is a major part and proponent of. Please take note that her statements in regards to "liberal household" and her "never in a million years" rhetoric is dictated by family politics. One question leaped forward and it is, since when is Patriotism a political thing?
As I keep reading this essay, many items of interest leap out from the screen. It is apparent that Mrs Reed is struggling with her son's bravery by answering The Call he heard. Her words of "a cause for sorrow, not pride", "arrogant patriotism" (the adjective expressed is a clear indication) or "murderous bloodlust", would actually drive men and women to answer The Call to serve their country. The expression of no "kid in his right mind" would do so is another clear indication of a generation lost to the late 1960s and the early 1970s America.
Perhaps, in her struggles to cope with the "blood lusts" of her son's service, she will come to learn that liberals harbor a deeply ingrained hate and prejudice against the military and she just may have an outside chance of getting over that. After all, she wrote a piece and it was published, in a country bought and paid for by the blood of the American Military to ensure her "right" to do so.
A while ago, another 1970s era anti-war (actually anti-American) member said the following:
You know, education--if you make the most of it, you study hard, you do your homework, and you make an effort to be smart, uh, you can do well. If you don't, you get stuck in Iraq.
Hopefully, Mrs Reed knows better. Lord knows the one which uttered those politically driven words of stupidity did know better but couldn't help himself.
Arrogant patriotism? Murderous blood lust? What would non-arrogant patriotism be? For that matter, what exactly is arrogant patriotism? The vast majority VOLUNTEER to join the various branches of the United States Military. They "hear" the call. It is heart-felt. It is an answer to the call of duty. The people that answer that call are a special breed than sense it a duty and an honor to serve to maintain our way of life. If it wasn't for the American Armed Services, the United States would have ceased to exist years ago.
The vast majority understand the risks involved in serving in an armed force and know exactly what it means when the Oath of Service is given. And, that Oath, when sincerely uttered, is a life-long Oath. It does not lose its meaning when the uniform has been hung in the closet for the last time.
It says quite a bit for the few to enlist during a time of war. Perhaps they do so after hearing the pathetic diatribe of those that hate the US military and it is all too telling in that our educators decry this very said same ignorance, knowing bloody well it is those that have served and given their all to maintain the very freedoms these people seek to destroy.
Mrs Reed? It is Pride of Country which is foreign to your part of our lost generation, ensconced in emotion...reason thrown to the four winds. Perhaps your son, a member of my son's generation, will be able to teach you what American Patriotism is.
As my friend Hawk says, "Once and always, an American Fighting Man."
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