RESILIENCE – America at Its Core

The news release read: “The Taliban, he says, has been a clever and persistent foe, and has not been defeated. It will re-emerge…” in the statement by former Congressman Peter Hoekstra. The article went on to say that he was “very very pessimistic…” as he assesses NATO and U.S. troop withdraw from Afghanistan.1 If there is any one thing Americans, particularly politically conservative Americans should not be, it is pessimistic.

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As we approach Law Enforcement Memorial Week with a time on the 15th where those who gave their lives in the line of duty in 2012 are honored at the Law Enforcement Memorial in Washington D.C. and in services across the country, the operative word is Resilience. In the wake of the Boston bombings, in an incredibly short span of time, officers were able to identify the offenders and neutralize the threat. We are at a time when our political processes, though far from perfect, are able to bring to light the inadequacies of the highest levels of government and their lack of response to egregious acts against our embassy in Benghazi and Tripoli. We, as the strongest democratic Republic in the world, are able to call our leaders before us as citizens and say, you were wrong and you deserve to pay for those lapses of judgment. The United States of America still, with ridiculous budget cuts brought on only by political ineptitude, are still able to muster the largest standing all volunteer military on the face of the globe and across all history. America has much for which she may be proud, even more for which to be thankful to God, Almighty, the One True God.
A recent article by William Kristol contained this statement: “The British have known for centuries that it’s not enough to hope for happy and glorious days in the future. It’s also necessary, with God’s help, to act in the present to scatter our enemies and make them fall. It’s necessary to confound their politics and frustrate their knavish tricks.”2 The conservative American, be he a statesman or a day laborer knows one thing within his inner most being. It is a fact that cannot be argued to too fine a point, simply that the facts of a free market, a smaller federal government and citizens who are armed both with the knowledge of history and the armament of the future is the successful way to govern. Ralph Waldo Emerson stated it as such: “There is always a certain meanness in the argument of conservatism, joined with a certain superiority in its fact.”3
Countless men and women have literally given their very lives in pursuit of the freedom that Americans enjoy every day. We, as the current holder of the torch must never allow the ill winds of pessimism, defeatism and cowardice to extinguish that flame. It is that brightly burning flame that has brightened the path for so many to follow. There will always be the ‘nay-sayers’ and the pessimists. There will always be the politicians who are in the halls of legislatures that are there for all the wrong reasons. They are the ones who when questioned about their failure to act in a time of crisis will respond, “What does it matter now?” When that exact same politician declared only months before when seeking even higher office, that they would be the ones we want to answer the phone at 3a.m. when the world was falling apart. Three a.m. came and went on their watch, they did nothing and good people died. What does it matter now? It matters a great deal more today than perhaps it ever did before.

Just a few short hours ago, a call came to the office. It was from a local radio station that had thrown its full support behind helping stem the critical lack of blood supplies for our citizens and our soldiers. That young man needed to know if this small business would stand with them. Word that our troops do not have enough blood supplies to help them while still on the battle fields rang a strong chord in this old veteran’s heart. This veteran has a soldier son, who is hurt, who must face the surgeon’s scalpel in only a few short hours. But, even if that call was not so close to home, this veteran and a hundred thousand others across this great nation would form the longest blood drive line one could ever see – just tell them where duty calls, let them hear the trumpet blast, and they will rise. They have given it all before and they will do it all again.

I am proud that I had the opportunity to serve both in this nation’s armed forces and along the thin blue line. God has been gracious to me and kept me from much of the evil that has surrounded me throughout the years. If I can do nothing more now than to add my name to a list to support such a worthy cause, then allow that to be the case. General Douglas MacArthur, upon his retirement, is quoted as saying: “Old soldiers never die, they just fade away.”4 In many ways, I am sure that is true but in so many more ways, I believe the valor, the pride, the distinction with which they served lives on in the lives, in the faces, and in the resilience of the soldiers, sailors, airmen and their combined families of the United States of America. “ I’m proud to be an American”, the country western song goes, “where at least I know I’m free; and I won’t forget the men who died who gave that right to me…”5 Resilience, it comes not from a text book, a Sunday school lesson, not even a sermon. It comes from the hard, gnarled hands that are no stranger to hard work and it is passed from those hands by the soft caress of a newborn baby’s cheek; a tear in an old man’s eye at the sight of Old Glory passing by. May God bless America and may Americans bless God.

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ENDNOTES
1 http://www.lignet.com/ArticleAnalysis/Hoekstra--Afghanistan-is-fragile-and-likely-to-reg
2 Kristol, William Resistance is Not Futile The Weekly Standard February 25, 2013
3 Ibid.
4http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Douglas_MacArthur
5Lee Greenwood - I'm Proud To Be An American (Lyrics in description) 

 

A Clash of Cultures

A small metal sign… drove home to me the hundreds of years of sacrifice, grief, pain and pride, (yes, pride) that the sign represents.

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Most of us might be surprised at the vast number of sub-cultures within our own culture. Some would consider the point so off-handedly that, even if these subcultures exist, all that is necessary is to be aware of them, nothing more. We certainly do not need another genre for which we must be politically correct. Already the current lists have made it to the far edges of ad-nauseum. Why belabor yet another category that seeks to be recognized, romanticized, eulogized, and deified?

This, however, is a culture that has been with us since the beginning of our great country, indeed throughout the history of civilization. Yet, the American version of this culture is one that does not seek recognition. Most of the time, this culture prefers to be unnoticed. A simple tip of the hat in recognition of their sacrifice is enough because there is little our supra-culture can do. Perhaps the only way to benefit this culture is to keep the virtue of our American culture at its very best.

Regrettably, I have been as little mindful of this sub-culture as most others, at least until recently. Recent events have driven home to me their existence. It was not in some grandiose presentation that I was pricked at my conscience, nor was it at some hall of heritage that I was alerted to their presence. It was, of all things, a small sign in the parking lot of a grocery store. I had never seen such a sign before and unless any American has a chance to go shopping at a PX or BX (post or base exchange) on a military installation, you will probably never see one yourself. A small metal sign that drove home to me the hundreds of years of sacrifice, grief, pain and pride, (yes, pride) that the sign represents.

The sign simply read: “Reserved Parking Gold Star Families” and reading it I was struck with such a sense of astonishment. I was astounded that I had never given so much as a passing thought to the thousands of families that carry on in day to day life, after the ceremonies, after the condolences, after the cards and visits have stopped. The ‘Gold Star’ families, those who have lost someone in combat, keep on with life, with shopping at the PX, with bills and car repairs and every day with a hole in their heart where a loved one, a Soldier, Sailor, Airman or Marine lives now as a memory.

Praise God for Gold Star Families and may we be reminded of them every day. When we are, may we ask God to bless them as they carry on, living a life Reserved for Gold Star Families.

(For more information about the history behind the Gold Star, follow the link to Gold Star Mothers)

Our family proudly displays a ‘Blue Star’ emblem in our front window and a similar decal on my wife’s car. Praise God that it is now a Blue Star and if God should ordain that it ever be Gold, may we honor the work of these proud families with our own.