Today we celebrate—well, many do—the birth of our great country. Independence Day. This year more than others I feel compelled to say something about that.
I spent 21 years in the United States Air Force. I served with the greatest men and woman, Black, White, Brown and everything in between. There were so many places, so many faces, so many things seen: joy and sorrow. Side-splitting laughs and heartbreaking tears. Rejoicing and mourning. Dorm rooms and tents. Foxholes and bunkers. Deployments and leave time. Chem suits, parkas and bunny boots. Cammies and service dress. Combat boots and corfam/high gloss shoes. Standing at attention (and you better not move—just ignore that giant mosquito that’s about to take a chunk of flesh out of your face!), Parade Rest, and At Ease (whew! Praise the Lord!). Ribbons, medals, and reprimands (what the _____ were you thinking!). Rifles and guns. Bullets and bombs. C-130’s, bombers, and fighter jets. We were and always will be brothers and sisters in arms, from every walk of life, knit together by a common creed and a common cause: to defend the greatest, most exceptional nation, the United States of America, from all enemies foreign and domestic.
No, our country is not perfect. Far from it. Yet, despite our many grievous past and even present sins, we continue to strive to make this a more perfect union. That in part is what makes us a great nation. Maybe you object to all of this. You’re free to do so. Maybe you refuse to call our country great. You’re free to do so. Maybe even deep inside you hate our country. You’re free to do so—and you’re more than free and welcome to leave it. Maybe like me you grieve over the various ways that we still betray our true American values. We are free to tell the world about it, and we’re free to peacefully march and protest to call our nation to live up to its true values.
In America, you and I can do all of those of things. Do you know why? Because this is the land of the FREE and the home of the BRAVE, and it was the brave men and women down through the years, Black, White, Red, Brown, and Yellow that believed in our true American values so much that they gave their lives to secure them for us. Independence–the freedoms and opportunities we enjoy–are ALL BLOOD BOUGHT, paid in full by our fellow American brothers and sisters. Don’t ever forget that. When you see that flag, don’t ever forget that. When you protest, don’t ever forget that. Whether you celebrate, or not, don’t forget the treasure in blood that gave you and me the rights and privileges and opportunities to pursue our dreams that we enjoy as Americans.
We are a proud people—a proud American family that is made up of every conceivable ethnicity and race, united by the eternal principle that we are all created equal with unalienable rights under God (NOT the government), such as the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Maybe on this one day we will decide not to focus on past or present sins, and how we fail to sometimes live up to our values. Instead, maybe we will take time to just be thankful for living in America–in the land of the free and the home of the brave. Maybe we will take the time to be thankful for being an American, and give thanks for the sacrifices that were made so that we and future generations could have the rights and privileges we enjoy. For me today, I am more thankful to God than ever to live in the greatest country on earth, and to simply be an American.