“Honor to the soldier and sailor everywhere, who bravely bears his country’s cause. Honor, also, to the citizen who cares for his brother in the field and serves, as he best can, the same cause.”
― Abraham Lincoln
On this Veterans Day, I pray that all those who are peacefully protesting the election of Donald Trump to the highest office in the land understand who made that right possible. Those who are violently protesting seemingly have no clue because they are behaving as if we live in a third-world country, not in the greatest country in the world made possible by the courage of those who fought to make and keep her free by defending the people and upholding the Constitution of the United States of America.
Amendment I. Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
We have an election process that works whether we like the newly-elected leader or not. Many times I have been disappointed in the outcome of an election, but never did I consider taking to the streets in violent protest. Americans who understand the process, simply go to work educating themselves on the issues and peacefully using their right to free speech to get that pendulum swinging in the opposite direction. The beauty of being an American is that we can be individuals united by a document (not a person) that lays out the principles by which we live in this country. Our military personnel take an oath defending that document:
I, _____, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed …
All Americans have an oath we may take, as well. It is called “The Pledge of Allegiance,” and it is intended to unite us as Americans, not as Republicans or Democrats.
I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
Of course, not everyone pledges the flag. It is a peaceful protest protected by First Amendment rights and defended by those who swear an allegiance to uphold the Constitution. If I don’t like that Colin Kaepernick refuses to stand during the singing of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” I have the right to address it through peaceful protest by writing about it or not watching his games or not supporting the team for which he plays. I do not have the right to hit him over the head with a baseball bat or steal his television. To do so would not just make me unpatriotic; it would make me a traitor to my country, a traitor like the violent protesters, the members of the entertainment community who have said they’ll leave the country, and the fictional character Philip Nolan in the Edward Everett Hale short story, “The Man without a Country.”
Seduced by Aaron Burr, young, ambitious Philip Nolan, an artillery officer in the “Legion of the West,” becomes a Burr accomplice and is later convicted of treason. Asked after his conviction whether he wishes to declare his loyalty to the United States, he cries out, “Damn the United States! I wish I may never hear of the United States again!” His judges, half of them Revolutionary War veterans, give him precisely what he asks for. From that moment, September 23, 1807, until his dying day, May 11, 1863, Nolan “never but once again” hears the name of the United States, spending the rest of his life literally and figuratively at sea.
Now, there’s a scary thought, one that far exceeds the thoughts of protesters about the next president. Our veterans don’t defend a party platform; they defend the principles set forth by our forefathers in a national document that is an extension of God’s laws and the will of the people of the United States of America. Maybe after an election, we should each stand for a moment of silence and thank God for living in a country where courageous men and women keep us safe and make it possible for us to practice our individual freedoms while uniting peacefully to bring about change. Please take time today – and every day – to thank them, pray for them, and offer your support for all that they do to keep America free. It’s the least we can do for those who defend the greatest nation in the world.
Retired from education after serving 30 years (twenty-eight as an English teacher and two years as a new-teacher mentor), Shirley enjoys her life with family and friends while serving her community, church, and school in Flour Bluff, Texas. She is the creator and managing editor of The Paper Trail, an online news/blog site that serves to offer a glimpse into the past and present of the little community of Flour Bluff. She wrote for The Flour Bluff Messenger, wrote and edited for The Texas Shoreline News, a Corpus Christi print newspaper that existed from December 2017 to April 2020, served as copy editor on three books, and continues to tutor students of all ages in the lively art of writing.