Marines.Together We Served

Wednesday, March 04, 2015

We Are Americans!

           I was born in 1948, two months before Harry Truman won his first and only election to the presidency of the United States. Truman was a tough old bird, having succeeded FDR to the presidency following Roosevelt’s death in April of 1945. A few months later Truman was presented with having to decide whether to use the atomic bomb against the Empire of Japan which might bring about a final end to World War Two. Truman made the decision and saved what has been estimated as one-and-a-half million American lives, lives which would have been lost had we had to take Japan in a land invasion. He was a man who could make the hard decisions. When asked about having to make the call on using the atomic bomb, he said, “All my life, whenever it comes time to make a decision, I make it and forget about it.” He famously had a plaque on his desk in the White House that said, “If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen!”

          I grew up hearing about presidents who made tough decisions – especially FDR’s “a date which will live in infamy” speech following the attack on Pearl Harbor. Eisenhower’s courage in leading allied forces against Germany’s Third Reich, and then later as president for two terms. JFK’s exploits in WWII were chronicled in his book, PT 109. By the time he became president in 1960, I saw all of our recent presidents as heroic. Democrat or Republican – it didn’t matter to me. These were men made of sturdy stuff, with broad shoulders willing to do whatever it took to protect the American people.

          Even though my mother and step father were Democrats, I didn’t care. When I came of age I never picked a party to belong to simply because I saw them both in a positive light. Over the years I realized I was developing certain views that were placing me more in one political camp than the other. But I still did not side with a party. I have always made it a point to vote, ever since 1972 when I was 24. I missed voting in 1968 because I was 20, and you had to be 21 then. That changed to 18 by 1972. I was in Vietnam that year so voted absentee for Republican candidate Richard Nixon, particularly after hearing Democrat candidate George McGovern say, “I would crawl on my hands and knees to get the POWs back (from North Vietnam).”

          Kennedy was the last of the strong heroic figures (“Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country”) before we hit the skids, presidentially speaking. LBJ, Nixon, and Carter were grave disappointments to me. Ford was a good president, but unfortunately assumed the presidential mantle from a deposed Nixon. Reagan was once again a strong, patriotic figure like those I had grown up admiring. Those since Reagan have been weak sisters by comparison.

          Today I am looking for someone who is made of the stuff that has made this a great country. I suspect there are those who are cut from that cloth out there somewhere across the “fruited plain.” However, neither political party strikes me as generating true leadership that has a laser focus on protecting America the country, and Americans wherever they might be, both here and around the world.

          Today the winds of war are blowing across the world’s landscape from Islamic radicals, but our elected officials seem to see this as an opportunity to fly kites. The number of imminent crises is staggering. Unsecured borders; government enforced health care; the dismantling of the Constitution – particularly the 1st Amendment (free speech), and the 2nd Amendment (the right to keep and bear arms); a national debt of nearly 18 trillion dollars; a military being reduced in force to pre-WWII levels; abortion, euthanasia, infanticide; Islamic terrorists; foreign nationals coming into America with no intention of assimilating; energy costs rising; wanton shootings and the like in businesses and schools; higher education costs becoming exorbitant and therefore increasingly out of reach; and so the list goes on.

          Can America find its way again in a world that seems to be going mad? Yes, I believe so.

          I was talking to a friend a couple of days ago. They were lamenting that they saw nothing but mediocrity and gloom in the years ahead for America. I reminded him that under the Carter administration things looked very grim. Carter was singlehandedly reducing our military force. In this weakened condition our enemies will, and did, take advantage. You will recall the takeover of our embassy in Tehran, Iran when 52 of our embassy personnel were held by Islamic terrorists for 444 days until Ronald Reagan was inaugurated January 1981. Reagan presented a tough, no nonsense posture, convincing the bad guys that he meant business – and they believed him! Reagan rebuilt our military and restored our footprint in the world. You could almost hear the nations of the world breathe a sigh of relief. Our economy rebounded and we were on the road to a quick recovery.

When America is strong economically, and robust militarily, our friends around the world are gratified and our enemies grow increasingly more cautious.

For the sake of your grandchildren and mine we must rise to the occasion and beat back and utterly defeat all of those threats to us that would undo us.
         We can do this. We must do this. We are Americans!

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