Marines.Together We Served

Monday, July 16, 2007

American Patriots

I know I’m getting older. If you live long enough that’s what happens. I’m okay with that. Really, I am.

What I find unsettling more and more is the fact that I am muttering to myself a lot, which usually includes the slow, shaking of the head, a rolling of the eyes in disbelief, and the commensurate accompaniment of deep sighs.

What, you ask, has brought about this mild form of apoplexy? Actually, it’s rather elementary, as Sherlock Holmes oft stated to his side-kick Dr. Watson. My babbling to no one in particular is attributable to the amazing dearth of true statesmanship and the requisite leadership that should be evident in our elected officials. Where, I ask, are the principled representatives of the people? Where are the men and women with the courage of their convictions to stand alone if need be? Where are the elected officials who strive to be a representative of the people? Where are the patriots who could not be bought by any special interest groups, or swayed from the course of doing what is right for America?

Looking back on our history, there were men and women who helped shape this nation who were larger than life; patriots who stood up and were counted during the infancy of this new nation. There were fifty-six members in the Continental Congress who came together to forge a document that has been the envy of the world – The Declaration of Independence.

So I took some time to read about each of the signers of this historic document. Besides being awed by their courage, several things stood out. First, quite a few were immigrants. Mostly they were from England, Wales, Ireland and Scotland. A number of these men came to America when they were adults, willing to adopt a new land as their home, and then fight for its freedom. Second, more than a few were very well off financially. One man was regarded as the richest man in America at that time. All of them, to a man, invested all of their financial resources into the revolution. With one or possibly two exceptions, none of them were able to recover their wealth, ultimately dying in abject poverty. Third, a number of them were constantly on the run for their lives from the British. Some saw their families killed and their homes and fields burned during the Revolutionary War. Yet they did not lose their nerve, serving this new nation even while experiencing personal loss and devastating calamity. This was true sacrifice in action. Fourth, these men, in all but a few cases, were very well educated, more often than not in European schools as well as in America. And fifth, a large number of these men were outspoken in their opposition to slavery, calling for its swift end. They also understood that this new nation might never see the light of day if this issue was forced. Slavery was still generally accepted. But the seeds of its demise were planted by the blood and sacrifice of the Founding Fathers. I saw this quote the other day that fits these patriots: “They understood, as few others have, that our Constitution and the freedoms it guarantees are worth fighting for.” These men had sand.

Do we have such leaders today? Where are the heroes today? Can we point to any person that we would want our children and grandchildren to emulate?

I’ll tell you where the patriots are today. They are the Soldiers, Sailors, Coast Guardsmen, Marines and Airmen who are taking the fight to the enemy across the globe, hunting down terrorists wherever they are found.

These patriots are soldiers like Private First Class Edwin Burrueto. This young man is from Peru where he earned his college degree. But since the school was not accredited, his degree was not recognized in the U.S. After immigrating to the United States PFC Burrueto believed this was a nation worth fighting for. So he joined the Army and became a mortar man. During a one-year tour in Iraq (2005-06) he reenlisted, was promoted, earned his citizenship, and has taken college courses online to earn his degree. Now that’s my kind of American patriot!

Allow me to comment on one more patriot. Last week I wrote about a book I had recently read regarding Iraqi general, Georges Sada, called “Saddam’s Secrets.” Toward the end of the book, General Sada made this observation of American general, David Petraeus. Sada witnessed Petraeus up close and personal while he served as commander in charge of training the new Iraqi Army. “I can tell you that he (Petraeus) is doing a great job,” Sada said, “and he works from early morning until late in the evening. I’ve seen him there at the defense ministry until late in the evening. He’s a faithful officer, and he knows how important it is to train the Iraqi soldiers to take over the job of defending the country; I’m very proud of the work he has done.”

This is the same General Petraeus who is currently the Commander of the Multi-National Forces in Iraq. He will be reporting to Congress in September on how well the counterinsurgency is going. Be watching for this! You can go on-line to get weekly updates from the general’s web site: www.mnf-iraq.com.

With patriots like these, we will surely win this war.

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