Saturday, July 02, 2005

July 4th Independence Day: Patriot Posts

Walkin' On The Fightin' Side of Me

I intended to continue my commentary on Zawahiri's book but I decided that I should pause and spend time talking this weekend about freedom, patriotism and joy of being an American.

I hear people talkin' bad,
About the way we have to live here in this country,
Harpin' on the wars we fight,
An' gripin' 'bout the way things oughta be.
An' I don't mind 'em switchin' sides,
An' standin' up for things they believe in.
When they're runnin' down my country, man,
They're walkin' on the fightin' side of me.

Yeah, walkin' on the fightin' side of me.
Runnin' down the way of life,
Our fightin' men have fought and died to keep.
If you don't love it, leave it:
Let this song I'm singin' be a warnin'.
If you're runnin' down my country, man,
You're walkin' on the fightin' side of me.
-Merle Hagard

Yeah, we have to hear folks talking smack about our country, even folks that live here. I suppose we all have our idea about what this country stands for and what we think we ought to be doing. Some folks think that they should say whatever they want, even politicos who are elected by us to represent us. Sometimes, though, I wonder if they know who they represent? It seems it can be lost in the partisan peacock dance that goes on up at the hill. Some of us turn it off and turn it down, turn away rolling our eyes and just get on with worrying about the important things, like our men and women over seas and moving the country forward, even in these troubled times.

You know, I tried to tell people before what it's like out here in my part of the country. I tried to articulate what we believe, but some folks don't listen very well. I hear some folks saying that their comments are because they care about the troops, too and just want to make sure they come home safe. If it was as simple as that, I'd probably never have a moments concern about what gets said.

Some folks like me are concerned about whether our men have the best they can get and whether they are taken care of. Sometimes, though, I'm concerned about what gets said about their armor and their readiness. Not cause I don't want to know, but because I don't want the bad guys to know.

Why don't those politicians up there on the hill get this?

Well, I guess it's too much to ask that they put aside their aspirations for political office completely and put America, her people and her soldiers ahead of it. It's too easy for them to forget, to believe that this is nothing and can be put away quickly. I think they want to re-think this strategy of going after these folks that hurt us.

You know, it's kind of strange for me, when the enemy pronounces they are at war with you, puts it in writing, speaks it and then attacks you and some folks want to pretend that you don't have to confront them, the bad guys, or that there is some alternative, conspiratal reason why we'd go to war in some place like Iraq.

You know, we didn't proclaim war on these folks, they proclaimed it on us. But, I guess war is scary. It's angry, it's bloody, it's dangerous and it means people die. Nobody wants that. Nobody.

A patriot doesn't want his fellow citizens to die. A patriot wants them to live.

Well, for some folks, that's where it stops. A patriot wants them to live. But, for some of us, we understand that a patriot knows when they have to sacrifice so that the many can live. Sometimes, a patriot is just the one that knows they've got a job to do and even when it gets tough, they go on and do it, hoping for the day when they can come home and live quietly, enjoying just driving down the road, having barbeques with their families, sleeping late, going to the grocery store when they want, watching TV, going to the races, all the things that we back here get to do without a thought.

Maybe that's the thing that kind of gets us into trouble. Unless you've got a family member in the military, most of us aren't sacrificing much except a few minutes watching the news at night, getting the latest casualty reports, or reading the paper. Some of us keep track of the war and know people that are over there because we make it our business to know, but still, we don't know sacrifice.

I guess that's why some folks just don't get it.

Then there are those that are waiting quietly, trying to to keep up with the news, supporting the men and women, if only with their belief in them as some of the best America has to offer.

Down here, in the state of Missouri, we don't get protesters. I don't know what goes on at the college campuses, but they aren't in our streets. There are so many "God bless the USA", "Support our Troops" stickers and flags around, you can't really count them. I tried one night, sitting at my local McDonalds, facing the street, eating some fries and a shake, looking at the cars go by, I decided to start counting. Well, I got up around a hundred in about thirty minutes and I knew I'd missed some.

I'm not saying that's proof of patriotism. I'm saying that, here, we have a quiet belief in the good of this country, in its core ideas and in the men and women that serve it.

On July fourth, there will be a giant display down by the river and every little town and community in the area will have fire works, parades, and community get togethers. This year, more than even last year, there are going to be a number of "support the troops" activities. The big one down town is going to have a "support the troops" walk-a-thon to raise money for the local organizations doing work with the families of the deployed and sending care packages to the men and women over seas.

You see, we don't get flag burning and protesters with effigies in this part of the country. We're too far from the coasts, we don't get national media unless a tornado rips the roof off of folks' houses and we have too many men and women that go to serve.

I guess, we just have that quiet midwestern thing where we believe the best of our country. I know, some might call it naive. We just don't like it when people kill our people. We get that Missouri Mule thing going on and just dig in our heels.

We have many folks here that come from all over the country and the world, really, to live here. Maybe not like the coastal places or other big cities, but we have our fair share. We also have people that have lived here for generations. Born from the type of people that came out and eked a living off the prairie, leaving everything they knew behind, every convenience, people they knew and came here with a few of their immediate family and stayed.

We still celebrate those days with "Prairie Days" and "Santa Fe Trail Days". We still remember the pioneers that risked everything to make something in the new territory opened up.

But we also celebrate our Indian heritage with Pow-Wows and other get togethers. Some folks think we ought to still feel guilty about the westward expansion. But, unlike those folks on the east coast, we've long come to terms with that and with our fellow American Indian citizens. We recognize them as part of our great nation. Part of the thing that makes America what it is.

It took a long time to get here and we don't plan to let anyone mess it up.

No enemy, foreign or domestic.

I hate to talk for everyone in the mid-west of course, that's a little arrogant on anyone's part, but I am hoping to try to convey why some things folks say are just bound to tick us off instead of convince us that we should change our minds or turn against our country. I've tried to explain about those of us in the middle ground and wars, we don't believe that wars we're in are "that war" or "his war" or a "wrong war" or a "Republican's War" or a "Democrat's war". We believe that it's America's war. We believe it's OUR war, particularly when it's our men and women going. Further, when we're battling suicide bombers and terrorists screaming allahu akbar and beheading people, we get the idea that these are the same folks that attacked us here.

So, it might be more complicated up in Washington, but it is pretty simple here. The enemy is there and it should be confronted and destroyed.

And our men and women keep signing up. Sadly, some have come home in flag draped coffins. For them, the war is over. For them, we reserve our deepest love and gratitude. For them, whole towns turn out to celebrate the life of these folks, our men and women, and pay tribute to their patriotism.

The patriotism of service to country and fellow citizens.

I know that some think that ending the war is the best way to save our men and women. For us, though, what comes first is keeping us safe and what comes second is making sure that the enemy does not get a second chance to come here. We recognize when men are evil and have evil intent to harm us. We don't forget what it is like to struggle for freedom and that it took many people to make that happen for this country and keep it that way for over 200 years. We've fought at home and on distant shores to preserve it.

When you all are talking up there on the hill calling people "liars" and "thieves" and referring to our men and women as akin to "Nazis" and guards from a totalitarian government without knowing what you're talking about and THEN it appears in the enemy's speeches and propaganda, we get a little upset down here.

We really don't get that thing about scoring points off of your political opponents at the expense of our men and women particularly when it scores points for our enemies as well. We don't want you not to voice your opinions, but we just wish, somewhere in the back of your minds, you would think about how you get heard around the world.

We have a tradition down here that doesn't seem to square with activities up on the hill. When we're under attack, we call it "circling the wagons".

Maybe you all should come down this way and learn a thing or two?

Probably not. Probably won't read this note either. After all, I'm not your actual constituent. I just can't believe that we are all so different from one end of the country to the next.

Some of these folks are acting like they are on college campuses back in the sixties still and holding fake impeachment trials against the president. I guess it makes them feel all nice and gooey inside when their little cheerleader protesters show up and tell them they're doing right. Or when some trumped up court in Turkey somewhere holds a "trial" and proclaims your fellow citizens guilty of war crimes. Honestly, that really didn't get much play time down here. Sure, the national cable networks had it on once or twice, but, when I asked people down here if they'd heard about it or what they thought, most people just rolled their eyes or said, "they did what?" in that tone that you know means they are wondering what everyone up on the hill is doing with their time and if this is really what you ought to be doing in the middle of a war.

That whole Viet Nam thing strikes a bad nerve out this way. Peace with honor isn't a phrase that gets much use out here. I tried to explain this before, as well, but I'll try again, not that I want to keep harping on certain themes, but this one keeps playing so I guess I need to address it again.

There were a lot of Democrats out here that didn't vote for Mr. Kerry. Lots of reasons, I'm sure, but from my folks generation (and my folks in particular), they didn't see Mr. Kerry as a hero that stood up to the government. Seems that some folks do remember that he was up on capitol hill making speeches against his fellow soldiers and meeting with the VC. They didn't see that as heroic. They saw him as a traitor. And, they didn't need any swift boat veterans' commercials to remind them.

I know that's harsh, but sometimes harsh things need to be said. I wonder if the folks up on Capitol Hill think about the legacy they are leaving?

This country has a fine legacy of patriots fighting against fascism and totalitarianism. We don't like tyrannts of any form. We don't really want to go looking for a fight, but when the fight comes to us, we want to take it to the mat.

I hope these folks figure it out sooner or later.

We need true patriots now, not back biting harbingers of doom.

I read about some squirrely guy,
Who claims, he just don't believe in fightin'.
An' I wonder just how long,
The rest of us can count on bein' free.
They love our milk an' honey,
But they preach about some other way of livin'.
When they're runnin' down my country, hoss,
They're walkin' on the fightin' side of me.

Yeah, walkin' on the fightin' side of me.
Runnin' down the way of life,
Our fightin' men have fought and died to keep.
If you don't love it, leave it:
Let this song I'm singin' be a warnin'.
If you're runnin' down my country, man,
You're walkin' on the fightin' side of me.


Sgt. B. said...

Good words, Kat...

Same same up here, in eastern Washington, where the farmers gather, continuing conversations their daddies started before WW2, and a few of us newcomers show up, escaping the idiocy of the cities...

The folks up on 'the Hill'... I dunno... Sometimes I think that they'll never 'get it'...

Happy Independance Day, Kat!

Anonymous said...

While I am from Colorado, I have been in So. Cal. since 1962 and most of that time has been in the LA area.

And the facts are that MANY of us
feel the same way you do about this.

Neil C. Reinhardt