First of all I want to be clear, I am a proud American. I still can’t listen to Lee Greenwood’s Proud to Be An American without getting choked up. I heard it on September 11, 2001 as I was driving from work to the daycare to pick up my two small boys. My youngest wasn’t even born yet. I was on Interstate 75 between Cincinnati and Dayton. I wasn’t sure if I was going to have to pull off the road or not. It is hard to drive through tears.
That being said, I am asking my fellow Americans to answer this question. I don’t need to hear all of your responses, I am asking it in a semi-rhetorical manner.
Can a country that doesn’t take care of its veterans be considered the greatest country in the world? Can a country that doesn’t protect its children, both in the womb and otherwise, be considered the greatest country in the world? Can a country that doesn’t provide for its elderly appropriately be considered the greatest country in the world?
Today is Memorial Day and it might seem like the wrong time to pen such an article, but I thought it was the perfect time to write such an article. I have lost contact with close friends due to my political beliefs. And as I have pointed out in the past, I don’t really care for either the Democratic Party or the Republican Party.
I am an American, not a Republican or a Democrat. I vote, I pay attention, and I don’t make political contributions to either party. I cast my ballot in good conscience, not with donations.
Patriotism isn’t about wearing the flag as a bathing suit. In fact, that is considered desecration of the flag. It isn’t about flying the flag three days a year—Memorial Day, Fourth of July, and Veteran’s Day. Patriotism, by definition is a love or devotion to one’s country.
As I pointed out earlier, I am the father of three boys—23, 19 and 13. I love them and I am devoted to them and their mother, my wife of almost 25 years. Like most parents, there aren’t too many things I wouldn’t do for my boys.
However, I am also very hard on my boys. I pat them on the back when they do something good and let them know how proud I am. But I also tell them when they screw up and come down hard on them sometimes. I hold them accountable for their actions, and that will always be the case, no matter how old they are. I think we need to do the same thing with our country and its leaders. Tell them when they do something good, tell them when they screw up and hold them accountable for their actions.
My father served this country and my father-in-law served this country. My uncles served this country and my great uncle was permanently disabled while serving this country in Vietnam. Many of my friends and former teammates have served this country. You name the branch of service—Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and Coast Guard. I am proud of them and hold them in the highest regard for devoting their time to this country and for putting their lives on the line for this country.
This article isn’t about questioning their patriotism, but rather it is a means of honoring their patriotism. They put their lives on the line to protect our freedoms. To protect our constitution and protect those that can’t protect themselves. For everything they laid on the line, we don’t take care of them? In 2016, there were an estimated 40,000 homeless American veterans in the United States. How?
The problems go far beyond homelessness. The healthcare veterans are afforded by the Veteran’s Administration is subpar at best and atrocious in most cases. Despite the problems with the care for our veterans, Republicans and Democrats want to point the finger at the other party. Should this even be a party-line issue?
A hot button debate right now is school shootings. The Republicans argue Second Amendment Rights have to be protected while Democrats want gun control laws. In many of the debates I see on social media, Republicans bring up Abortion Laws during the debate and Democrats bring up a woman’s Constitutional Right to choose. Both of these subjects are causing children to die—both those that have yet to be born and those that have already been born. Both parties claim they want to protect children, but they aren’t willing to compromise.
What if there was a compromise to be had? Would Democrats give ground on the abortion debate in order to gain ground on gun control? Would Republicans give ground on gun control in order to gain ground on the abortion issue? My guess is probably not. Compromise and negotiation have become bad words in politics. They have come to represent weakness.
Just to be clear, I am pro second amendment rights- with special considerations. I am anti-abortion with special considerations.
I see pro second amendment folks saying that taking away guns will not save lives because even if we make guns illegal, criminals will still find a way to get guns. Can’t the same thing be said for abortions? You can make them illegal, but even if they are illegal, a female that wants an abortion will find a way to get one whether they are legal or not.
It seems to me that the greatest things about this country—the rights guaranteed by the Constitution, the greatest pieces of legislation, taking action against atrocities around the world—all of those things came about after compromise and bipartisan agreements. Bipartisanship seems to be another word that seems to have become a bad word in Washington.
Going back to the question I asked as the title of this article, I will say the answer is yes. Americans can still consider our country the greatest on Earth, for now. If we continue down the path we are on without making changes, I’m not sure we will be able to say that in the future.
If we don’t make changes to take care of and protect our own citizens as well as protecting others around the world, we won’t be able to consider our country the greatest on Earth. If we continue to vote on issues based on whether it does more good for our party than it does for the people, we won’t be able to consider our country the greatest on Earth.
On this Memorial Day, I asked that you honor the men and women that have served our country in the past, as well as those that serve it today. Honor the sacrifices that so many have made. But I also ask that you honor them by using the freedoms and rights you are afforded thanks to their sacrifices. The right to vote, freedom of speech, freedom of religion, etc. Not only should you exercise these freedoms and rights, but you should respect others have to these same rights. Even if you don’t agree with their point of view, please respect their rights and freedoms.
I think President Trump has done some good things and there are things he has pushed that I disagree with. That is also true of President Obama and President Bush before him. But if there is one thing I wish President Trump would change, it is the way he talks about the Democratic Party. The tone he uses and the name calling that he does are not helping our country.
In modern society it seems that it is easier to rant and rave against those we disagree with than it is to speak civilly. We need to move away from that line of thinking as it is driving us further and further apart. Now more than ever, we need to respect one another and be civil towards one another. That is the only way our country is going to survive and maintain its status as the greatest country in the world.