To the Editor:
I served this country for 44 years in the military, in civilian service, and as a contractor with direct impact on our service men and women. I served almost eight years of that in uniform and 13 months of that as a volunteer in Vietnam. Although I saw very little combat. I certainly survived my share of rocket attacks at DaNang during TET 1968.
Before all of that though I was taught at a very early age you showed respect for the country and it’s deceased who fought for this country over the past 200+ years. You stood and put your hand or hat over your heart as they played the anthem or the flag passed you in a parade.
During all of this time I was taught and learned that America stood for something and that you may have issues with which ever party was in office but they were Americans through and through and they to had the country in their hearts. I served with that in mind. Although at times I was angry at our direction and some policy I still believed in freedom and that piece of paper, the constitution, and its predecessor our founding fathers Declaration of Independence. I still carry that on my iPhone, and look at it quite often these days. Call me old-fashioned but I really did believe we wanted to be and were a good example to the world. Not always not every day not in every way but overall we wanted to do right and not only share in our freedoms but share them as well.
Certainly we had extreme differences through our existence. That pendulum swung back and forth. Labor/robber barren management and wall street, Conservative fiscal centrist/ social democrats sans fiscal responsibility ,
Nationalist/builders of international coalitions (League of Nations and the United Nations), industrial military complex/ international Red Cross and relief efforts worldwide as well as the peace corps. But all in all we helped one hell of lot more of humanity than we wreaked havoc on. Oh, we did our share of man’s inhumanity to man but I think that was human nature not unique to America. It’s still deplorable and now back on the domestic front.
Yet after all of this, we as a people have elected or chosen to be hateful and selfish and quite frankly a miserable lot to each other. We have chosen to go down a path that seems to be a down hill trail to nothing but hatred.
I used to make a personal trip down to the Vietnam war memorial every year the beginning of may in the early dawn hours and think about all of those names that represented so many lost loving experiences. Weddings love, births, first days of school, proms and graduations, sweet sixteen birthdays and proud grandparents that never happened because we were too proud of a nation to say we have no business in deciding another country’s future. Then I look around at all of the other battle memorials. Most, not all seem to call out failed policy. But I realize that this is how every nation has gone through time and I feel that the great ones survive these missteps and keep their eye on what we want to be. A light to freedom and hand of help to the rest of the world.
But today I feel so depressed so lonely with my thoughts of citizenship. I think of all of the Americans that want it to be just like before, but not realizing most of the names on my wall represent those not the same as them. The ones who are so worried things will change and giving a helping hand up not hand out will drastically effect their IRA or 401Ks that they want to label that help as a very bad thing. They don’t realize that real equality is what we wanted it to be to start with, but those guys couldn’t get us started without turning their heads a little and pray to God we could figure out how to do it over time. We still don’t understand that 250 years is too long a period not to have figured it out
I cry a lot these days. I cry thinking of how much my fathers lessons to his son have been betrayed by us. I cry when I remember the first night of TET and the morning after when on my way back to my rack I turned the corner in the compound and looked up to see that flag I so love. I think of the poet, Key’s words “ore’ the land of the free and the home of the brave.”I cry when I remember, two weeks latter when I walked from my post over to the tarmac on the airfield and saw a thousand silver caskets stacked high row after row, waiting to be flown home to someone who’s heart was breaking. In their name and so many others, I just can’t believe we are throwing this all away because we are selfish and worry that those small belligerent crowds represent our constituency.I wish those same people who are worried for their careers would think of me. And our fathers and grandfathers who taught us right from wrong. And do what’s right. We all know right from wrong, we just sometimes choose what’s wrong for expediency. I wish we would do the right thing this time.
That’s what I wish for.
Village of Gilchrist