Teaching Patriotism To Our Children
Since September 11, 2001 Independence Day for the United States on July 4th has been especially poignant. While there has been a surge in patriotism, we all need to maintain a sense of pride and love for our country whether we are at war or in peace time.
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Between the years of 2003 and 2005, 366 police officers have died serving their country in the line of duty. Between 2004 and 2005, there were 37 instances of homicide deaths in schools across our country. Hundred of firemen have lost their lives fighting fires and helping their neighbors in the past three years. Security officers die in the line of duty. Public officials are gunned down, their families murdered, their lives ended prematurely. Between 2001 and 2002, there were 38,726 homicides or legal intervention injuries that led to the death of those involved. These are cold hard facts, and they are happening right now, here in our own country.
Far away, across the Atlantic Ocean, we are faced with more statistics like these. Since the beginning of the war in Iraq, on March 20, 2003, over 1,700 American troops have lost their lives, serving their country, protecting our freedom, saving lives. It is a sad thing for all involved, their friends, their families, their co-workers. With each death, a void is created not only in our world, but in our hearts and in our spirits.
Some people out there say that the only solution to this problem is to bring them home. They feel that we need to stop whatever we are doing in Iraq, give up on this effort that we started and not stop even once to look over our shoulders at the devastation that we'll be leaving behind us. But would these same folks suggest that all police officers suddenly refuse to respond to crime? That those firemen should no longer go to the rescue in fire and medical emergencies? Should public officials tender their resignations and stay holed up in their homes, leaving the world to fend for themselves? If they did, where would that leave us, the people that need them in order to feel safe and secure in our homes?
All of these lives that have been lost in the line of duty are sorely missed. There isn't a single person who has been affected by these deaths that doesn't wish that things were different, that their loved ones were still alive. But no one would suggest that one death, or a hundred, or a thousand, or two thousand is worth giving up on our fight for safety, security and justice.
Over in Iraq, we know that a war rages, and that our soldiers are on the front lines. But do we really have any idea who these people are? They aren't the generals that we see on television. They aren't the old men that we seem to think of when we hear the word "veteran." In truth, the majority of our soldiers and armed forces over there are very young (20-25), enlisted men and women. For all intents and purposes, to many of us, they still qualify as "kids." In other circumstances, these men and women might lead ordinary lives, going to college, worrying about their upcoming dates, trying to figure out where they want to spend Spring Break. Instead, they have the responsibility of fighting a war, risking their lives, and possibly saying farewell to their families for the last time. And, through it all, they are doing a terrific job!
The average American has NO concept of these burdens and responsibilities. They get up in the morning, kiss their spouses, and send their kids off to school. Then, they head to the office for 6-12 hours before coming back home. They get home, eat dinner and sit down to turn on the news, where they'll listen to some debate, view a few gruesome clips of the war in Iraq and THINK they can accurately decide whether we should or shouldn't be there.
In the name of "concern" for our troops, they go about defaming the President and anyone who supports his executive decisions. They call him a traitor, a war criminal and vilify his chosen officials and those who voted him into office. But they aren't doing our soldiers Iraq or Afghanistan any favors; instead, they are setting up our young veterans to feel the same alienation and separation felt by the men returning home from Vietnam.
The press, media and rhetoric is not only affecting them, our soldiers, but the rest of America as well. Recruitment efforts have proven dismal, which leads to the enactment of stop-losses and the strain of soldiers facing not one deployment, but two or three or four. With this shortage, and the need for more forces overseas, we are seriously jeopardizing the security of our own nations, borders and citizens.
When is this madness going to end? When will we learn that what we unanimously agree to start we must also unanimously agree to see through until the end? When will we cease searching for a scapegoat and admit that the War in Iraq wasn't the decision of one man, but of every voting man and woman in our nation?
It's time for us to stop whining and complaining; to stop blaming people and to start acting like a nation with half an ounce of sense.
Wars aren't won in the Congress, Senate or White House. They aren't won on the cable news or in our local newspapers. Generals don't sit down to play tidy, pivotal games of chess. Wars are won on a bloody battlefield, where dead bodies litter the ground, and anguished survivors live to fight another day, another battle. Where Dad's wait anxiously in long lines for a chance to say "I love you," to their wives and children and families. Where young mothers lovingly compose long letters in stolen moments to their children and husbands when, with all of their hearts, they wish they weren't missing 365+ bedtime stories and goodnight prayers.
Persistence is needed ‚ not just from our soldiers, but from the American people as well. Commitment is a thing our nation has lost sight of over the past few decades, but we must find hidden reserves of it now if America wants to survive the coming days ahead.
We are feeding the insurgency in Iraq with our strife, arguments, and our divisions. The civil war isn't just taking place in the Middle East. It is raging and growing here as well.
And if we continue on this path ‚ Republican biting the back of the Democrat, Democrats tearing at the purpose and drive of our Armed Forces ‚ brother against brother, father against son: there won't be any America left to defend or protect.
-Jennifer Gibbs: Proud American, freelance writer, and wife of an active duty soldier. Visit her website at http://www.JenniferGibbs.com
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