Monday we all climbed into the van and headed the hour and a half to West Lebanon NH to the closest Best Buy to pick up my new laptop. My old one didn't have the graphics or RAM I needed to properly edit my photos in Photo Shop; more than 3 layers and 2 pictures and the whole program would lag horribly or shut down. It was frustrating to say the least.
On the way down we discussed many things, and as the Inauguration was growing near we, of course, began talking about politics and the state of the country. Mike and I don't belong to either party. Most of our friends label us as staunch republicans though, because they are all very left wing and whenever there is a get together and politics come up we are very quick to take the opposing side, not because we necessarily believe in what we are arguing, but because we truly believe that true conviction is achieved only after all doubt is abolished. So we ask questions and pose problems in the hope that our questions and issues will help them strengthen their convicton or make them see that this might not be the issue worth fighting for. OK...maybe we just really enjoy playing the devils advocates :-P lol.
Anyway, on Monday we were talking about patriotism and how after the country-wide crisis of 9/11 everyone threw up their flags and declared themselves a patriot. For a few short weeks, maybe months, we were cohesive, we mourned our dead, we recovered from the shock and we looked to our leaders to make the hard decisions. Unfortunately we are not only a nation of prideful people, but a nation of people who want instant gratification. And when the first months of the war in Afghanistan didn't bring the wanted results, our cohesion wavered, doubt ran rampant, and our flags were forgotten.
Our flags were forgotten. I think there is a parallel between 9/11 and Pearl Harbor in that they were both attacks that took place on American soil and they were both acts that threw us into war, but also that they caused the American people to join together and back the government, even if only for a short time. That is where the parallel ends...because after Pearl Harbor people didn't forget their flags, they saw the flag as a symbol of their country, and they took pride in it. Yes, I know it was a different time, a different mindset, a different war. But their hardships were ten times what we have had to endure and still they flew their flags and rationed their sugar and bought war bonds. They also knew HOW to fly their flags..and why. My husband is always quick to point out that although people are prompt to put up a flag and call themselves patriotic, it isn't the act of flying the flag that makes you so, its the knowledge of how to fly it , why it is flown that way , the BELIEF in both and the willingness to take responsibility to make sure it's carried out correctly that makes a person truly patriotic. Of course he's still rather cranky about spending 18 months away from home in the Iraqi heat, and he knows that the probability of being deployed again is very high. For him taking responsibility comes naturally. He is willing to give his life for his country, our freedoms mean that much to him, they always have. So I understand why he gets so passionate about flag flying and patriotism; he's been there, he's seen young men die, he's spoken at memorial services for comrades cut down in a foreign land, he has written and signed letters home to the families of men that were killed. He has seen the devastation of war, not only physically but what it can do to a person mentally and emotionally. He has lived it, in the heat and the stink and the mud and the wind. And every day they would raise our flag over their base and risk the chance of being shot at, because it was a symbol of what they were fighting and dying for , it was a symbol of freedom and of pride and respect for all of those that have fallen in defense of this country. Of course when he reads this he's going to say something really smartassish like I make him sound like some militant living out in the woods somewhere with a gun cache...and maybe I do LOL..but what I really think is he's one of the bravest people I know (and I'm not just saying this because I'm married to him and he just bought me a new laptop and I'm hoping to get lucky later :-P).
I honestly hope that this new administration can bind us together and give us renewed hope and pride in the symbols of our country. As a nation bound together we have the potential to lead the world into a new age, apart we will continue to fall into dissension and rot from the inside out. I'd rather not hand over the latter legacy to my children.
"Let it be told to the future world ... that in the depth of winter, when nothing but hope and virtue could survive... that the city and the country, alarmed at one common danger, came forth to meet [it]."