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Chatterbox: What really matters


As we watched the opening ceremonies of the Super Bowl, my husband and I were more amazed than ever at the selling of the American military. We have striped, checked and indeed dyed it into the fabric that is public sporting events in this nation today. It seems we just can’t have one without the other.

Obviously we are always grateful to our military, as we should be, but pomp and circumstance aren’t the ways to celebrate, or to repay their devotion or sacrifices. Yet, they have become the distraction, or camouflage, for what we lack in our continuing care for many. We would better honor them by serving their needs after active duty, in medical and psychological venues and employment issues, as well as advancing and delivering the freedoms and fairness to America’s people that our military believe were what they were making their sacrifices for, no matter how indirectly.

It’s insulting that we have a military budget approaching a trillion dollars, some report over a trillion, while many of our returned veterans are struggling. Their continuing care leaves many short of what they need and, indeed, earned. Overt platitudes are unimportant when continuing support is so insufficient our veterans are counted among America’s homeless, regardless of whether that impetus is physical or mental. While we understand that it’s difficult to keep up with someone who may be tough to track, that is the less common case. Many request assistance that is delayed or denied.

I was recently reminded of a speech made a few years ago, on a television show. Though he was American and a patriot, the speech wasn’t favorable. The character was fictional, but the speech was a harsh reality. Even unto her own people, not all of America’s history was pretty, or fair, or even attempted to be so. That is also true for America today. Still, we are and always will be a nation alive, always caring and evolving. We’re a work in progress, as all nations are. That is as it should be.

Parts of what we have accomplished throughout our checkered history were wonderful ... we were wonderful. What many of us are still working for and believe we can accomplish and be, as a nation, is wonderful; we believe we do still have great things to achieve. As with all things, we may have to modify here and there, but we must continue working, remembering the greater parts of what we were, are, and can be. We remember what we’ve accomplished, and still can accomplish as a national government – and as a nation of different peoples, who are becoming one people.

As we remember to give our country and its leadership due credit, past and future, we still have to remember what to make recompense for, both at home and in other countries. Most importantly, we have to recognize that this isn’t an unpatriotic thing to say, do, or expect.

Indeed, it is the greatest act of love. Any true patriot works to make his or her nation the strongest and fairest, most viable and successful it can be.

If we speak up when America, her people, or her leadership are wrong, we cite the failures only because we know the successes are possible.

Indeed, it would be the worst kind of abandonment and complete absence of concern to let our nation run amok. We certainly wouldn’t allow our spouse and children to fail just because we love them. Why would we allow our nation or its leadership to fail in order to show patriotism? Abandonment or acceptance of incompetency is not an act of love, pride, dedication, or patriotism – it is concession, resignation, laziness and apathy. That is a clear suggestion that we have no faith in that America can do better, and we have no concern as to whether or not it does.

We must admit, if we are honest, that a truly great nation doesn’t abandon any of its children, poor, mentally ill, sick or dying, or destitute. This is particularly true when the politics which created and continue to preserve that condition were conceived by hoarding the national wealth and privatizing natural resources.

A great nation is responsible to, and overseen by, her people. No force can be allowed to scuttle that. It is the job of her people to make America do better because she can and because we care. We will never abandon her; she is ours to protect and to lead.