Marines.Together We Served

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Real Americans

Amidst all the politicizing, camera-hogging, pontificating, blame-casting, excuse-making, and Bush-bashing, real Americans step up to the plate and answer the call when their fellow citizens are in trouble.

Once again we have been subjected to some of the most awful accusations and diatribes imaginable spewed out of the mouths of politicians, movie actors, rappers and other brainless Neanderthals. For these folks, the whole world is a stage, upon which they reveal themselves to be a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. Where’s the love?

Let me tell you where the real love is – it’s something that resides deep in the heart and soul of Americans like embers that only need to be stirred for the fire to leap back to flame. Last Sunday, a young lady in our congregation whose name is Amber asked me if she could make an announcement to the congregation. She told us she was planning to leave for Houston, Texas on Thursday to assist with the relief effort. Could we help her with some things she could take down?

We received any number of coloring books, games, playing cards, children’s books, and a host of other items over the next several days for Amanda to carry down. Only problem is she’d need an old-fashioned shipping trunk to carry all the stuff. She had informed us that she was only taking one suitcase. Ha!

Ellen, who is in charge of our social activities and is one excellent cook, told me she’d love to go down and help organize feeding these displaced people. She and her husband raised their own children plus a number of adopted children. I’ve forgotten just how many. She laments that she cannot go and help due to health conditions.

I ran into Sharon at the gas station yesterday. She doesn’t attend our church, but asked if we were taking an offering to help in the relief effort. I assured her we were, and in fact, had taken a collection the previous Sunday, September 7. She said she figured as much and wanted to make a contribution.

My friend and fellow-Marine, Dave, asked if he could use his skills as an EMT (Emergency Medical Technician). I looked at him and sadly shook my head no. You see, Dave is a Vietnam Vet, who, due to wounds and injuries, must move around now with a walker. This is a man with three Purple Hearts, a Silver Star, and the Navy Cross. He’s in his early fifties. And he’s someone you would want in a time of crisis. His broken body simply won’t allow him to be involved in this rescue effort.

I could tell you of others but you get the idea. You could probably add to this list yourself. In fact, you’d probably want to go yourself if you could.

The truth of the matter is that so many Americans have stepped up that the organizers of the rescue efforts are having to now turn people away. Not to worry, though. It is predicted that the recovery period will go on for months. More people will be needed as others are required to return home to their jobs and families.

I was spending the day on Friday at the Navy/Marine Corps Reserve Center in Alameda where my command is located. I was visiting the Commanding Officer, Commander Lisa Avila, and the Executive Officer, LCDR Brian Week. I asked what was being done by our reservists regarding Hurricane Katrina. They told me the phones have been ringing off the hook from reservists wanting to know how they could be used in the relief effort. Could they get orders to the Gulf?

These are my kind of Americans! No hand-wringing. No finger-pointing. No excuse-making. Just normal folks who know how to get things done. And if they can’t go themselves, they’ll at least make a monetary contribution. Or they’ll ship supplies to the affected area. And they’ll pray.

I can’t help but think of what Jesus said in John 15:12-13. “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.”

Real Americans know this truth. They love their neighbor, regardless of race, creed or national origin. This has been my experience everywhere I travel in this great land of ours.

Do the nay-sayers bother me? Not really. After my initial desire to reach through the TV screen and grab some mealy-mouthed no-account by the throat, I remember that they do not represent Americans, real Americans I have been privileged to know.

America is great because her people are great.

God bless America!

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