is the soldier, not the poet,
who has given us freedom of speech.
is the soldier, not the campus organizer,
who has given us the freedom to demonstrate.
is the soldier, not the lawyer,
who has given us the right to a fair trial.
is the soldier,
who salutes the flag,
who serves under the flag,
and whose coffin is draped by the flag,
who allows the protester to burn the flag.
--Charles M. Province
Time Magazine's Margaret Carlson recently itched and moaned about how, in reference to Florida absentee ballots from the military claiming residency in the state without an income tax, "we will have possibly a bunch of tax dodgers deciding the election." Was this virulent witch referring to those senior citizens who prefer the climate and tax climate in Florida or those underpaid, overworked, routinely ripped from their families young men and women who serve in uniform in defense of this silly girl's right to puke offensive rhetoric?
I am a veteran ... like millions of others. I have taken an oath, like millions of my brothers and sisters to "preserve and protect the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic." We do not abandon that oath when we remove the uniform. Politicians who have taken the oath do not have the option of selectively choosing what they arbitrarily select to preserve and protect. Those who have taken the oath and then subsequently undermine, attempt to abrogate, or ignore their promise are guilty of fraud and perjury.
I always make it a point to share certain patriotic items with my radio audience around Veterans Day. Recently I received the following e-mail, "Thank you for reciting the poem on your show today in remembrance of Veterans Day about the flag burning and the old veteran with the rusty gun. It choked me up to hear it. I spent 14 years flying in the active duty Air Force and now continue to serve in the Reserves. Most of my active duty tour was in Special Operations. I have lived in uncomfortable tent conditions in the desert, away from my wife and kids and missed birthdays and holidays. It was not uncommon to be TDY 200+ days per year in Special Operations. It takes a strong family to make it through times like that. Many of my friends' families did not. Having your family fall apart is a big sacrifice to pay for the lifestyle many Americans take for granted. It makes the sacrifices all worth it when some civilian says 'thank you' and means it. Right now, the military needs to hear it a lot. Please remind the listeners to thank any servicemen they happen to see. Thanks to our current administration, military morale and retention is at an all time low. The problems are many. Let us start to fix things by showing the democrats what it is like to be a real patriot and support those in uniform and those who served. Thanks again for reading the poem and meaning it."
With Bush in the White House, we can recapture the dignity of the office, respect from the serviceman and start to reverse the damage done to one of the nation's most honorable professions -- the profession of arms.
The poem that e-mailer referred to was reportedly written by Gary Huddleston:
protest raged on a courthouse lawn,
Round a makeshift stage they charged on,
Fifteen hundred or more they say,
Had come to burn a Flag that day.
boy held up the folded Flag,
Cursed it, and called it a dirty rag.
An OLD MAN pushed through the angry crowd,
With a rusty shotgun shouldered proud.
uniform jacket was old and tight,
He had polished each button, shiny and bright.
He crossed that stage with a soldier's grace,
Until he and the boy stood face to face.
OF SPEECH," the OLD MAN said,
"Is worth dying for, good men are dead,
So you can stand on this courthouse lawn,
And talk us down from dusk to dawn,
But before any Flag gets burned today,
This OLD MAN IS GOING TO
HAVE HIS SAY!!
father died on a foreign shore,
In a war they said would end all war.
But Tommy and I wasn't even full grown,
Before we fought in a war of our own.
And Tommy died on Iwo Jima's beach,
In the shadow of a hill he couldn't quite reach
Where five good men raised this Flag so high,
That the WHOLE DAMN WORLD
COULD SEE IT FLY.
got this bum leg that I still drag,
Fighting for this same old Flag.
Now there's but one shot in this old gun,
So now it's time to decide which one,
Which one of you will follow our lead,
To stand and die for what you believe?
For as sure as there is a rising sun,
You'll burn in Hell 'fore this Flag burns, son
this riot never came to pass
The crowd got quiet and that can of gas,
Got set aside as they walked away
To talk about what they had heard this day.
And the boy who had called it a "dirty rag,"
Handed the OLD SOLDIER the folded Flag.
the battle of the Flag this day was won
By a tired OLD SOLDIER with a rusty gun,
Who for one last time, had to show to some,
THIS FLAG MAY FADE, YET THESE
COLORS DON'T RUN.
President Teddy Roosevelt once observed, "Patriotism means to stand by the country. It does not mean to stand by the President or any other public official save exactly to the degree in which he himself stands by the country. It is patriotic to support him insofar as he efficiently serves the country. It is unpatriotic not to oppose him to the exact extent that by inefficiency or otherwise he fails in his duty to stand by the country."
Another e-mailer, Bill from Shingle Springs, Calif., wrote, "Some time back when you were still at KSFO, you asked the question, what does patriotism mean to you? To me it means living in a country that I never have had any shame about. Not being afraid to put on a military uniform and put myself in harm's way as I did in Vietnam, and would do again in a heart beat if called upon today. So that we can enjoy the freedoms and rights that have been bestowed upon us by our Constitution.
"Now that Veterans Day is upon us again, I think about the ones who paid the ultimate sacrifice for this country and missing in action who are not yet accounted for, as they are the real patriots. They will not be forgotten by this veteran, I was lucky, made it home in one piece.
"Patriotism is a sense of self-pride and determination to make this nation better and keeping the fires of freedom lit. Keeping your head high and treating this country with the respect that is due, instead of trying to tear it down at every turn.
"After 30 years I cannot bring myself to go to the Vietnam Memorial, as the pain of Vietnam is still that great. But as I said before I would not hesitate to lay my life on the line again for my country if called upon, that is how great my love for this nation is.
"I wish that the younger generations had a love for this country, instead of taking it all for granted and letting someone else fight their battles, as patriotism seems to be a dying breed. One day they will have to stand and fight or roll over and die, they will more than likely do the latter. As they will not know what the meaning or feeling of being a patriot or honor, duty, country is. This is a sad outlook for the greatest nation on earth.
"I want to take this time to thank you for being there for all the veterans and the commitment you have made to this nation."
is a time to thank all veterans for all they have done -- and especially
for what may be their contribution to saving the republic (even if temporarily)
from the socialist tyranny of an administration contemptuous of the Constitution.