Op-Ed: Americans need to realize that only a country united can move forward on the path of libertyAir Force members from Fairchild Air Force Base presented the American flag Aug. 15, 2015, at Avista Stadium in Spokane, Wash. (U.S. Air Force/Airman 1st Class Mackenzie Richardson)
Is America finished? This question is on my mind a lot lately, since it seems politics has crept into every aspect of our lives. Our countrymen can’t even agree to unite around our flag and national anthem anymore at sports events. Where will we be when the men and women who currently wear our nation’s military uniform finally get fed up? You see, most of them are part of the fan base of sports giants like the National Football League or Major League Baseball, and their parents are, too. Will they encourage their children to volunteer for military service for a country that has turned its back on liberty and embraced vast government that controls most parts of our lives? I seriously doubt it, and I, for one, am hesitating to encourage young people to volunteer for military service these days.
Why, you ask?
As I observed National Football League players on foreign soil disrespecting the American Flag and national anthem on Gold Star Mother’s Day, of all days, I couldn’t help but wonder what the young men and women in uniform serving overseas must think. One my own sons is serving in the United Kingdom and I know that he treasures the support of his fellow Americans, just as I did throughout my military career that spanned just over three decades. I have not yet spoken to him but I can only imagine how he and his fellow service members must feel right about now. You see, we are all volunteers and as General Martin Dempsey said in his recent opinion piece, we are patriots who volunteer even though we know our country is not perfect.
Interestingly, the U.S. Department of Defense spent $5.4 million in contracts with 14 NFL teams from 2011 to 2014. Some of those contracts disclosed that payment was for on-field flag ceremonies and tributes to welcome home veterans. Maybe this will help our military folks see things clearly, since it shows the NFL’s hypocrisy and faux patriotism – but I do not.
I see these events as the playing out of a great tragedy, placing human history’s most successful free nation in peril of losing its young people to the attraction of using big government to “help” others instead of seeing the only path that has first brought the birth of our nation and second, held us together for so long.
That path is the wide path of liberty. This is the only path the founders gave us that can keep our nation safe, free and prosperous. The path of liberty was the enabler that encouraged men who owned slaves to step out of their time and create a country whose founding principle is “all men are created equal” with certain “inalienable rights” that can’t be taken by governments. It took decades and a war that claimed more 600,000 American lives on both sides to end that terrible institution of slavery that they could not, but it was their foundation that kept the debate alive and eventually finds us here where we are now. Only this path can help our great nation ease the divisions among our people. Liberty provides the way to civil debate, establishing of principles, and the opening needed to find solutions to our problems.
I encourage all citizens to come back to the path of liberty. There you will find us Americans that still keep liberty’s flame burning in our hearts and minds, ready, willing and able to work together with all to reunite our country. Our country united can work. All the peaceful successes we have had were when we were united. I would encourage the NFL players and team owners who want to do something to focus their energies and their vast financial resources and platform on cities like Chicago and New Orleans to address real challenges that our underserved communities of all demographics need help with more than anything else. Finally, I humbly ask these protestors to keep in mind when we stand, we honor folks like my dad, whose triangular folded flag is downstairs in my home. We honor all those young men and women who worked for me in peace and war as a Commander, who didn’t come home from a mission, and we honor their families from all throughout America’s great history. God Bless the United States of America and all who owe their liberty and prosperity to her.
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