I am quickly closing in on the completion of novel #4, BUT FOR THE GRACE OF GOD: A NOVEL OF COMPASSION IN A TIME OF WAR, which takes place during the US Civil War. Over the weekend I finished up the section that I was dreading the most. It deals directly with the secession of the South and the ensuing conflict, a major part of which was caused by the oppression of an entire people. Hateful stuff.
I have always been a fairly easy-going person, and if you have read anything about my homelife, you can no doubt understand that it is a valuable asset for the health and continued existence of my family. Although I always try to employ patience and logic in a frustrating situation before coming unhinged, I have found that there are a handful of issues that make this a difficult task. Mostly they boil down to an injustice being perpetrated or cases of outright ignorance.
We, as Americans, have become increasingly adamant about demanding our rights, even when we are undeserving of them. We have become so used to having our say that we think it is our God-given right to do so. Our Constitution states it clearly in black and white. But black and white often come in varying degrees. You have the right to do something as long as it doesn’t infringe upon someone else’s right to do something else. See, not quite as clear cut as you thought it was.
These liberties come at a price. In the sixties peaceful resistance was all the rage. How fabulous it would be to show our objection to an injustice by sitting around and singing Kumbaya until the police ordered us to disperse and then carefully dragged us away to jail when we didn’t comply. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always work that way. Native Americans employed a similarly non-violent combat tactic. One of the most honorable ways to go into battle was carrying only a long stick with which to tally up their strikes. We all know what happened when they came up against an enemy who did not respect their traditions nor their bravery. Their beautiful wide open lands were stolen from them at gunpoint along with their honor and entire way of life.
So, although we would like to believe that freedom is our due and natural state of being, sometimes it’s necessary to fight to secure those liberties that we all lose sight of in our heightened sense of entitlement. And of course, no one wants to think that our everyday privileges have been purchased with a sacrifice of blood. Our nation is founded upon it and remains independent because a small percentage of courageous people have taken that responsibility to heart. My son, J. Cristian Ramirez, is one of them. He sacrificed nearly six years of his life, almost the whole of his majority, so that people like me could sit at home in my recliner and make up stories. While we Americans were enjoying our Thanksgiving dinners with all of the trimmings, safe and secure in our peaceful homes, he was out patroling the DMZ in Korea and serving two tours in Iraq. Of course, I think about it everytime I see him–indeed it has now become a part of his very person–and I heartily appreciate it, but there are others out there who do not. Instead they carp and complain at every opportunity.
Is there such a thing as too much freedom? There are two examples that stand out in my mind that indicate that this may be the case for certain people, who abuse their 1st Amendment rights to preach messages of hate. Years ago I saw an image of a black peace officer protecting a Klan demonstration from a crowd of protesters, the majority of which were white. What?! More recently there was a group from Westboro Baptist Church traveling around to soldiers’ funerals, exercising their right of free speech to “Thank God for dead soldiers”. Again, what?! Not only is this disrespectful, it is shameful. The irony is that the soldier gave up his life to ensure those people’s right to say such things without fear of retaliation. Shame on them.
So, in closing I would like to say that my intent is not to scold … well, that is partially untrue … but my main objective is to make you think. Whether you agree with military involvement in a given situation or not, if you feel inclined to voice your approval or objection, please thank a veteran. They are directly responsible for ensuring your privilege to do so.
For another Veterans’ Day tribute, please check out my very intelligent and talented friend, Shirley Ann Worthen, whose stirring editorial BUT WHY WOULD THEY WANT TO? will run here later in the week. For now here is her message of gratitude:
Veteran’s Day Tribute to my Ancestors Who Have Served in the Military by Shirley Ann Worthen
And while throughout my genealogy there are literally thousands of my ancestors who have served in the military and every war we have been involved in since the first Pilgrims set foot on American soil, and I appreciate each and every one of their service, I would like to set forth here a tribute to a smattering of those in my direct lineage … (click here to continue reading on Shirley Worthen’s website)