(Author’s note: It is likely that there will be some or many who will disagree. I ask only for us all to respect one another as we get into discussions.)
For anyone who has read my posts for the last several years, or who have known me for a few years or a lifetime, you know what I stand for, especially when it comes to service to others, patriotism, and my reasons for why I joined the military. But today, I feel an overwhelming sense of sadness because of what has transpired in these last few days since the Presidential election this year.
I know that half of you who voted are happy about the outcome. The other half are not. It was certainly a shock to everyone that Donald Trump–never a politician–would win over Hillary Clinton, whose life-long dream was to take the political path to the White House.
In all elections, there is a winner and loser, where the candidates are concerned. There are always going to be those who are happy about the outcome and those who are unhappy or, better said perhaps, ecstatic and devastated.
I, too, am disheartened by what I’ve seen in these last few days. But, before you start making assumptions about how I cast my ballot, I suggest you continue reading.
First of all, I will start by saying that I voted my conscience, which is what I have always done, and encourage others to do. I, in good conscience, could not vote for either of the two major party candidates. (The reasons behind my decisions are not important to share in this post. If you would like to get into a respectful discussion about them, I would be glad to do it over a cup of coffee.)
So, the reason that I am so disheartened is not so much about the outcome of the election itself, but how people are responding and reacting.
What I am observing in many situations is this: People who are very vocal about wanting the freedom to say what they want and do what they want and be who they want to be seem to be some of the major offenders of doing it at the expense of the freedoms of others. They are rioting, burning, smashing, assaulting, and killing others just because they are angry, enraged, and (perhaps a bit) spoiled, with no regard for the sanctity of the process. Instead, they opt for the hateful destruction of anything or anyone who is in the path of the rage. Sometimes, this is effecting some of the very people who agree with them.
One of the most difficult things I have seen is: Known veterans are out there in the streets protesting, and allowing the extreme ugliness.
They are not the remaining World War II veterans or the Korean War vets. I am not seeing too many Vietnam veterans. Of these groups, we are certainly raising our voices in disagreement with what has gone on in politics these last couple of years. We are not the ones seeking out media cameras to get our 15-minutes of fame by smashing storefronts or setting fire to monuments or destroying cars because they (the cars) are there to be destroyed.
I am saddened that some people, who have no understanding of the price of freedom, are doing, some of them who have been in uniform.
Several years ago, I started to see a major change in this country, as it related to service to others. When I would thank a young veteran for serving, there were some people who would answer, “I didn’t do anything for you. The last thing in the world I joined for was for this country or the people in it. I just did it for free college.”
I try to impress on many of these young veterans that, even though they do not think they have served or maybe that was not their intent, what they actually did was serve this country and its people. It may have “fallen on a lot of deaf ears,” but I believe there are some who realized it. There are even some who always knew it, even though it is not popular to admit it.
There are many of those who are in our younger age groups with the same attitudes of doing solely for self, without regard to the common good for others. Some are a bit less of more ill-mannered. This is not to say that all Millennials fit into this profile, any more than all we Baby Boomers are alike either. I know many good and rotten folks in both age groups, and many in-between.
I just can’t seem to get over this overwhelming black cloud that is not coming from one party or another, but is coming from people who are now becoming the largest in numbers.
And I cry for this country. I cry for those who are hurting and fearful. And I cry for myself, as a veteran, who would be willing to lay down my life to protect their freedoms, yet most would not do the same for one another and, least of all, me.
We do not have a perfect country or system. There are many things that I wish that I could change over the last few days, weeks, years, and my lifetime.
But I also know that I live in a country where we are still free to vote, disagree, protest, and share so much more that others can not do, by the nature of their birth. All that is asked of us is that we respect order and, if we are to dissent, we do it peaceably.
It is my hope that those young people who have served, and understand what it takes to work together with people who think differently than they do, step up as leaders to help heal this nation and its people. It starts with each of of us, as we seek to understand one another by getting into dialogue, rather than breaking laws of order.
To all my fellow veterans–the younger ones–step up. Take the lead. Do what is right. Not just what is for right now. You will make the difference. And I thank you for your continue service to this country by doing so.