But I got to thinking...
I'm sick of the rhetoric. "Violence never solves anything," "Peace Matters," "Don't punish terrorists, kill Guantanamo." There are more and I'm sick of it.
I don't like war, I don't. "Fighting sucks," is my understatement for the year. I can't comprehend a fight behind the mask of an M-14. I've been scared before but...
I'm for freedom. I want you to have an opinion. I want you to say you like this idea, and you don't like that idea. I want you to believe what you believe, and I want you to like football and baseball, and I want you to not like sports at all. I want you to worship, or I want you to choose to stay in bed.
I want for you the freedom to support or criticize.
My classmate Anne, in high school long ago, wrote a prize winning speech called "Let Freedom Ring!" The speech contained the mantra over and over again: "Let Freedom Ring," she said.
I believe that's who we are.
Leaders have motives and motifs behind their decisions... philosophies behind reasons. Some reasons may be access to oil, to improve trade routes, to protect the American people from terrorism. But in the end, the American people and their leaders wanted and want freedom for people.
American history -- stories of wars between our own people, stories of how America was formed, massive numbers of American-Indian lives cruelly lost and changed--ugly stories.
But... I can't help but believe that developing vast new cultures that have never been seen before, such as The United States of America beginning in the 16 and 1700's, take unimaginable sacrifice. The sacrifice becomes even more amazing when we understand that people like you and I have been historically willing to face the sacrifice head on. They've been willing to endure ridicule and criticism by so many of us, to protect freedom for those same people. Rough stories can't change what good and strong people really wanted-- despite an imperfect history, we and our leaders desire and desired freedom. And given enough time, we can now clearly see who of us desire freedom and those who mask oppression with pretty little bows--legislation that serves only to make us more dependent, to deplete our intuition, to internally defeat our own sense of freedom... and deplete the free nation's morale. However, I believe I'm seeing a people beginning to stand against oppression again...against our own form of the Berlin Wall. Many of us are speaking out. You and I have witnessed our nation inspired by freedom and disgusted by oppression, and we should want that now--in some ways we should want that again.
My dad, and my dad-in-law both served in war and, while I could not comprehend their experience, I can boast in my pride of them and those who served with them. I am grateful that they were willing to allow my freedom, the idea of freedom, and the freedom of others to land squarely on their shoulders. They are heroes. I'm thankful every day. I wake up every day and breath free air because of them and people like them. I don't want them to regret their fight, because in success, and despite failure, they fought for something--their leaders and commanders wanted freedom for a people, whether they be Americans or South Vietnamese. In my opinion, my dad and my dad-in-law should be proud of their torrid days in dreaded jungles. They came home to a silent, ridiculing nation, but they stood...they saluted their nation. Only recently have some people, some journalists, regaled historical proofs that reveal their heroism, their purpose, and the mantra of leaders who desired nothing less than free people.
Even you and I have ulterior motives behind our decisions. What I do might seem unwise to you, but be patient and I might surprise you. That's what men did with freedom in the late 1700's. Despite a few ulterior motives, so many of us have strived for the pursuit that freedom allows. Leaders and their advisors decide by their presuppositions, in part for their legend, for their legacy...but also in part for the freedom of the people, by the people and for the people. On the flip-side, when leaders seem to derail American's freedom, we are constitutionally obligated to contest them, to push them back, and to eventually push them away by our vote. Demand your freedom...let freedom ring, people! Because the true worth of our free America reveals a people--Americans rising to every occasion with millions of their own dollars, and pounds of muscle behind every hammer within our borders, but also in Haiti, the Dominican, in Africa, in Asia and in most places of the world. Americans desire the best, under God, indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for all.
Despite some strategic mistakes, despite McNamaras and others who defined kinks in the American armor, we wanted freedom for Europe in the World Wars, we wanted a vision for Korea, wanted freedom for the Vietnamese, want freedom for Iraq and the Middle East, we want to protect the Israeli nation and we want to give a new reality to Afghanistan.
I know what you're saying--I've heard it a million times--"Every nation has their own culture, and we can't hope to make them be 'Little Americas.'" But look closely...we don't want them to be us...we want them to be them, but a 'free' them. They'll suffer the change as we did, but freedom works.
History shows that when one nation attacks another, the conquering nation intends to have the conquered nation for themselves. However, the examples I gave prove America to be different. American people want freedom for nations. We want a freedom for nations in which they can exist on their own. In fact, America's actions have inspired some form of elections in several nations in the last few years. Our leader's words inspired an oppressive Berlin Wall to fall.
We can tell some horrific stories...but Anne said, "Let Freedom Ring" and Americans have expected and have gotten nothing less--until now, I believe.
I believe the mantra is changing. Our leaders seem to dampen our freedom bell that was, until recently, heard around the world.
I know what freedom feels like--there's no explanation--take the joy of a Budweiser on a hot day and times that feeling by millions and there-in lies a free life.
Freedom exists for a precious few nations, and we should want freedom for them. We should expect nothing less.