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Saturday, February 12, 2011

Three Flags In the Wind


Three flags are popping in the brisk knowing breath of wind above the community park.  It is a cold, clear winter morning.  They’re building a monument there to the “Forgotten War”: a conflict we tried our best to ignore.

American soldiers froze in summer uniforms. Under supplied and under manned they fought to the death while we buttered our bread and basked in the persistent glow of an old victory.

They were scattered and broken on the anvil of our national negligence yet they persevered. Steely eyed they fired into the night at an enemy they did not know and could not see … and they waited.

They fought for each other while hoping and praying that we would come: yet we faltered. We failed them. Not until the heels of their boots tasted the salt of a southern sea did we take notice.

Yesterday’s hero blinded the world to the plight of our troops warring in a divided land.

Finally we came. The tide was turned but the fallen will not rise again. Some broken have mended … some have not.

So we erect a monument to honor them. We cast in stone a remembrance upon the land where our children play.

So little … so late … yet we salute  ... Inchon, Chosin Reservoir, Pusan … the list weighs heavily on our national soul.

They fought bravely and did not waver. They would not give up the battle even when they knew we had forgotten them. 

Farewell and God bless dear brothers of the Korean War. Thank you. Where once we forgot …let us here … in this time and place … and forever more … remember.

Cynical Morality

                                              Cynical Morality

The phrase “by the people for the people” struck me to the core even when I was small. Early I realized that people throughout the world lived in cruel and unyielding dictatorships. Our “Weekly Reader” clearly described the governments of Saudi Arabia, Cuba, Ethiopia and others.

When we began to study the Founding Fathers and the birth of our country I was completely engrossed. The courage, honor and dignity of men and women offering up their lives to create a country based in freedom and equality rang of a high calling. I dreamed of one day doing the same. Love of country came naturally.

Years passed as I read, studied, voted, served in the Navy and evolved into the so-called citizen I am today. Though like many, I became cynical, I have never lost my respect for the ideals this country was built on. Folks carp that all politicians are crooked and that the government is bought by big money.

To some degree this may be true. I contend that to enter into public service is no “walk in the park”. Why would an educated individual with resources, connections and the wherewithal to run for office subject himself or herself to life in a fish bowl? Why would they bypass what is typically more money in the business field to perform in a field that is largely thankless and fraught with criticism? Some would say they want power. It is a long an arduous road to any real power. There are easier paths.

I contend that they wish to serve their country. I still believe that most folks who enter the political arena want to change things for the positive. Most have seen the alternatives and studied them. They know that the ideal of democracy has the capacity to lift mankind to his highest function. “Liberty breeds morality” if government is based in that same morality.

If we fail the founders of this great country it is not in our dissension or partisan haggling. It is in our loss of this morality. To claim God’s grace and name as particular to our cause is errant and in and of itself flawed. To live and act in accordance with God’s grace and name is to practice the highest form of democracy.

Thomas Jefferson posited,  “The public heart of freedom would, by its independence of thought and will, create a “government by the people … for the people”. This is the dream that a I, as a precocious child embraced and still to this day, as a grizzled and cynical citizen believes.

 I say that we are practicing democracy at its messy, argumentative best. Let us not escape our moral responsibility by casting stones at those who would engage themselves in the difficult work of nation. Let us rather call on them to remember the sacrifices made. Let us vote for the moral high ground and put aside our fear of someone getting what we want or taking what we have.

There is only one thing that anyone can take that in the end will matter. It is our liberty to disagree. As American’s we have the right to govern ourselves. Would we surrender that right for the sake of civility or for self-centered fear? I think not. “For the sake of morality”, might be another matter entirely, though.