One thing I do think I missed out on, however, is the Presidency of John F. Kennedy. I have read quite a few books on the 35th President and the world in which he lived. I find it to be a fascinating historical period and am particularly fond of his many powerful speeches. America was being re-born, I believe, during that time. For better or worse, it was a vibrant and exciting part of our somewhat short history as a nation.
Because of what Joal does for work, I collect historical quotes that have to do with America, history, freedom, patriotism, the spirit and people of America, the founding fathers, great historical moments, Presidential points and all things that seem representative of America to me. I have a small scrapbook of these little pieces of America and I add to it regularly. Joal and I have some rousing conversations about them...ongoing conversations that we both truly enjoy (or at least I do.)
So, this evening I was shopping my favorite quote site for some fresh material for my little collection when I came across this jewel:
“The cost of freedom is always high, but Americans have always paid it. And one path we shall never choose, and that is the path of surrender, or submission.” ---John Fitzgerald Kennedy
Take a moment and re-read that. Don't miss it.
A few weeks ago when I flew to Atlanta, I witnessed something that illustrates just one of the the cost of our freedom in a very real way. I was sitting in the terminal waiting for my plane when I realized that there were way too many people and a crazy number of kids waiting at the gate for *my* plane. Jets to Atlanta arrive and leave about every 90 minutes from Nashville...so they are usually relatively small planes and there were way too many people at the gate for a plane this size.
I double checked to make sure I was in the right place.
I was completely puzzled until I noticed that a young woman and her three sons sitting in the chairs closest to the gate were holding small American flags. The kids were well-behaved but I could tell...those boys were hyped. (I have no problem recognizing hyped boys.) Mom was a little frayed, too. (I know that look as well.)
And then, I heard her say "Just a few more minutes, son, and Daddy will be home."
That's when I took another look around and it became obvious that the gate was filled with people waiting for the arriving flight. There was only one explanation for that because airport security no longer allows ordinary people to meet deboarding passengers at the gates.
They were Military.
Sure enough--just a few minutes later, the plane I was waiting for arrived and about 30 cammo-clad, pack-totin', boot-wearin' high 'n tight Army men emerged from it. It was a sea of green...faded green cammo.
It was a deep moment for me. Tears welled up in my eyes. My brother was a week from entering bootcamp and I was emotional about that, but on a deeper level, it was the perfect illustration of one of the costs of freedom that so many Americans pay willingly. I wish I had some photos to share--I know they would have been beautiful--but honestly, I wouldn't intrude that way. Those moments were just too prescious and personal. I am so happy I was able to witness them tho.
So whatever your position on the "issues" in America--Whatever your chosen party or political leanings, I hope that you will always remember the words of the President and bear witness to the truth they declare. We owe a debt for the price that has been paid for the freedom we share and the ability that is hard-won and harder-kept to choose our own positions and speak our own minds on things that we care about.
The government sometimes seems like it's an entity of itself and is too big to moved by one person but that is simply not the case. We are our government if we choose to be. We each have a role to play in it. If you are not doing your part as a citizen of this land, someone else is going to have to carry your slack. It's your responsibility as an American to participate--not just to lay claim to her goodness and her opportunities but to share in the responsibilities of upkeeping those freedoms and liberties. Guard them. These character traits of America--freedom, liberty and justice for all have been hard won and must be protected in order to be kept.
For if they are lost, America is lost.