On the 4th of July I was inundated with Facebook posts about patriotism, freedom, veterans, and immigration. These posts got me thinking about what it actually means to be an American.
I am an OEF and OIF war veteran. I did not join the military because I’m patriotic, I joined because I had no parents to guide me, no money, no education, and I was homeless. I was 18 years old when I joined, 19 when I deployed.
During the beginning stages of Operation Enduring Freedom, media reporters interviewed college students regarding their thoughts on the war. The dominant question asked was, “Are you proud to be an American?” to which the reply, “Hell yeah!” or something like it. The next question was the game changer, “Since you’re so proud of your American heritage, would you join the military and fight to protect it?” Obviously their answers were no. The reason for their no is priceless: “I’m too young to join, I’m in the prime of my life.”
The age-range of the MAJORITY of the U.S.’s active duty enlisted is 19-24. Would it be safe to say that most of our military service men and women are also too young and in the prime of their lives? Yes, yes it would. Unfortunately, not everyone has the backing of mommy and daddy, and the military provides security for those without other known options.
Americans get so bent out of shape over immigration. I don’t quite understand this. Wasn’t this country founded by foreigners? Who are we to say which foreigners are the right kind and which are not? America used to be the country people were free to move to to start a life they would not be able to have in their native countries. I mean, that’s how we all got here originally. Am I wrong in believing this? I think not.
Be patriotic if you must. I’m not suggesting you stop, but do understand what you’re supporting. True patriotism means supporting our veterans and our country’s military. I am not suggesting we support ridiculous wars and the mass murder of innocent people because that would be stupid. I’m talking about supporting the people who put in THEIR time so YOU don’t have to.
True patriotism also means supporting and protecting those who risk their lives to be with us so that they, too, can have the freedom so many get to enjoy. If our ancestors were murdered or kicked out of America when they came here to start over, where do you think you’d be?
Patriotism is kind of like religion- lots of talk and not a lot of follow through. True patriots are productive members of society. They do not sit around collecting government assistance complaining about the war, immigration, and the like. They take action to build a better America for its current and future residents.
Are you a bleeding-heart patriot? What actions are you taking to support America?