Many Thanks, one and all, for the wonderful surprise in my inbox this evening. A Special thanks goes out to Dirk Star, who found my blog by some fortuitous "click", and for his kind words on his blog, and the love from the Good Old US of A provided by his blog-followers. (His site is exactly 200 times more popular than mine.)
And I'm just talking about the emails! Dirk made me feel ten-feet tall, (I'm un-worthy!), by devoting an entire post to me and my blog, and ORDERING his troops to participate in what he's calling "Operation Desert Swarm." To load my site with traffic, and well-wishes, and hearty "Merry Christmases" for all us folks over here. (Plus a number of "Happy Birthdays!" for me).
So family and friends of this blogsite, please go there and patronize him, and see what he wrote. Dirk's blogsite is http://jestersrap.blogspot.com/
A word on America. I believe it good to belong to something bigger than yourself. Not some rank ideology, but a purpose and love and respect for that which is greater than your ego. The defining difference is does it elevate the ideological over the interpersonal? And with America, it plainly does not. Our country celebrates and revels in the individual. Individuals like Dirk Star. Like Me. Like Marcus Hall. Like "Skinny Little Blonde", "Skeet", and "Kentucky Brat."
I speak only for me, but I am not brave. I am fulfilled. Infused with meaning and purpose. If you took away my love of Country, there'd be nothing left. (maybe a bar-tab, and an ORA coin). It is my life-long love affair with America that leads me where I go, an unseen hand (I think I know whose) that guides.
Love of country is not a nebulous abstraction, either. Better men and women than I have gone before me, laid down their lives - so that I might live out my wind-blown, aimless "walkabout". And the shocker is they never knew me. They died for promise. A Promise. And I'm not OK with being indifferent to that.
America was founded with the best principles and ideals to hand. 220 years later, they still are. I will not shrink from them. I will not neglect the blood-debt I inherited on my birth. There's a reason they burn our flag. And its because its worth burning. Its more than a flag. To be born American is to have won the lottery on life. Pity that too many are unacquainted with the world outside our borders, and its history.
No sweaty, stinky, bearded zealot will ever come near the people and the country that I love. Not if I have anything to say about it, "By God", as we say in the South. Our fates are bound together, and that isn't said NEARLY enough in our rapidly atomizing, ego-centric West.
Fear doesn't go away, its never very far - but you've you've climbed all the little hills when you realize its irrelevant. A recent acquaintance of mine, said his old First Sergeant had taped this missive up in the lid of his own foot locker, to be seen every morning when he opened it. "Be Brave. You have no choice."
We err. We make mistakes and misteps, but the goal is eternal, the ideals unflagged, the Constitution un-sullied, and the soldiery unflinching. It fills you up till your cup runneth over - when bright, star-brilliant, outrageously individual folks (I call them Americans) send you anonymous love and gratitude from home. It recalls the promise.
And from Baghdad, we reciprocate fully, in spades. May the sun shine on all of you, and as the old Irish toast goes, "May those that love us love us, and may those that don't - may God turn their ankle - so that we may know them by their limping."
I'd like to leave you with the words of Pat Conroy, SC's most famous (adopted) son. After many years as a War-protestor, and exile and excommunication from his alma mater, the Citadel, he had an epiphany in the home of one of his old classmates, many years later. They had played on the basketball team together, and this friend shipped off to Vietnam and led a platoon in combat, as was the purpose of his training. Conroy lay awake at night, wondering of the nights of horror his friend had been through, as Conroy himself led war-protests in Beaufort. He pondered on the time and space between them, and how he'd wound up in this kind man's house a welcome guest after all that. In his speech to the graduating Citadel cadets of the class of 2000 (?), entitled, "Why I wear the Ring", he said he'd learned: "That America is worth dying for even when its wrong."
All the Best,