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SITREP: June 2002

By Dan Shea

In the fervor of patriotism that we have been seeing over the last eight months or so, I have noted a couple of things- expected them, but disturbing nonetheless. One of these is how many people are “Hiding Behind the Flag”- I mean advertisements that have nothing to do with patriotism, or military obligations, or actually anything at all to do with America and her trials. Car ads caught me the other day. Selling cars has little to do with protecting our country, unless you want to take the unlikely tangent that if it helps the economy, it is patriotic. Hell, buy a machine gun or a suppressor if you want to help the economy. Exercising your Second Amendment Rights has got to be more patriotic than buying a new Honda.

Politicians are doing that as well. Same old baloney being foisted off on the public as “being patriotic”, and just about every day some windbag is blustering about “How dare someone question my patriotism”, just because he isn’t on the same page as today’s version of the Hawks might be. Remember half of these people are communist sympathizers from way back, and generally hate traditional America unless it’s election time. Hypocrisy abounds in politics. Someone ought to be questioning the “Patriotism” of politicians who go contrary to the Constitution.

Funny thing. There are a lot of Americans, of all races, creeds and colors, who are serving or have served in our armed forces. Most of the people had a quiet commitment to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States. These are the guys and gals from small towns and big cities, from rich and from poor and just plain middle class. In the eyes of the bean counters who are advertising for new personnel they may be kids looking for a way to work through college, or a challenge to find themselves, or perhaps starting over after things didn’t work out in civilian life. That isn’t all there is to it. Service requires commitment.

I was remembering some conversations in Basic Combat Training many years ago. Just a bunch of guys- kids really, I was seventeen and most were under twenty years old. In the quiet moments where people had stopped trying to show how tough they were, or we weren’t being herded and rushed around, there would be conversations. I remember quite clearly one young man who wasn’t particularly smart- he was actually kind of the dimmest bulb on the chandelier to be honest- the kind of kid the smart jet setters mock, the one that Hollywood leaves as driftwood on the beach. I was struck by his simple ideas of patriotism. His father had served in WWII. Everyone in his family had served. That is kind of like my family, by the way, all the way back to WWI.

There weren’t a bunch of heroes in his family. No Medal of Honor holders, no huge war stories that he passed on to us. He simply stated that it was his dues to be in the Army for three years, then he would have paid for living here and could get on with his life. He wanted to do this. He was serving because it was the right thing to do.

I don’t know where he went or ended up. Can’t even remember his name. But, I have to tell you, in the time I served, I met countless people just like him. That is who is there in our service, that is who will be out in front or back in support. People who serve because it is the dues for living here. This is not to judge those who didn’t or couldn’t serve- it is just a reminder that when you hear politicians tell you what the patriotic thing to do is, or the car sellers, or whoever has an agenda.... That the Americans who did wear, or are wearing the uniform are patriots by action.

They don’t need to buy a new car to prove it.

- Dan


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