My husband, Kyle was among the 145 men and women from the 142nd Engineer Battalion that flew out of Camp Ripley for Fort Carson, Colo. After a brief period of training and readiness, they will be heading to an undisclosed location in Southwest Asia.
Kyle joined the Army 18 years ago this February, at the age of 17. He served in the Army Reserves for a good many years before transferring to the Minnesota National Guard. One weekend a month and two weeks a year for 18 years, Kyle has put on his uniform and gone to serve his country, in whatever way he was asked.
I recently spoke to the wife of a Vietnam veteran. Her husband returned from Vietnam to an unwelcome and unfriendly homeland. She told me her husband fears the lack of patriotism may be even worse now than it was then. How can this be?
Don't protesters realize they have the right to stand with their signs and chant on street corners because of the men and women who have fought and died for that freedom? Don't people realize we are free to vote and object to what our president says and does because of the voluntary actions of people willing to serve their country?
A poem written by an unknown writer has been circulating on the Internet in the last couple of days. It rings so true. Part of the poem says,
"It's the soldier, not the reporter, who gives you the freedom of the press.
It's the soldier, not the poet, who gives you the freedom of speech.
It's the soldier, not the campus organizer, who allows you to demonstrate.
It's the soldier who salutes the flag, serves the flag, whose coffin is draped with the flag, that allows the protester to burn the flag!"
During the farewell ceremony at Camp Ripley, we were all asked to recite a creed I would like to share as well.
-- The American's Creed by William Tyler Page, 1917
"I believe in the United States of America, a government of the people, by the people, for the people, whose just powers are derived from the consent of the governed; a democracy in a republic; a sovereign nation of many sovereign states; a perfect union, one and inseparable of freedom, equality, justice, and humanity for which American patriots sacrificed their lives and fortunes. I therefore believe it is my duty to my country to love it, to support its Constitution, to obey its laws, to respect its flag, and to defend it against all enemies."
Many people are opposed to President Bush and the war he has waged against terrorism, but whether or not any of us agrees or disagrees, we need to support and respect the thousands of men and women, husbands and wives, fathers and mothers, sons and daughters who are willing to sacrifice their lives to defend our rights and protect our freedom. So even if we do not agree with the politics involved, I pray no one would diminish the sacrifice these heroic people make by the things they say and do. Let's welcome each hero home with open arms and hearts overflowing with gratitude.
(Pohl is a Brainerd resident.)
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