I remember the first time I met President William Jefferson Clinton. I was stationed on-board the U.S.S. John F. Kennedy, stationed in Norfolk, Virginia. He was scheduled to visit the newest aircraft carrier of the fleet, the U.S.S. George Washington. As he was stepping off the ship he pointed to our ship, and he decided to make an unscheduled stop. It was a surprise to the crew, because we weren’t told to clean up the ship like we had to do when important dignitary’s came on board. And when he did come on-board the whole crew knew it with the sound of three bells followed by “United States of America–arriving”. Tears flew off my face. The tears flew because he was the first person I voted for. More tears flew when I had a chance to shake his hand, while on-duty, serving on the greatest ship ever named in the U.S. Naval Fleet. I was only twenty-one years old.
Many years later, I had a chance to see the VC-25 aircraft, more commonly known by its call-sign when the president is on-board–Air Force One. I was in Rhode Island, and I was on my way to a lawyer’s office closing on the first and only home I have ever owned. The aircraft was parked on runway 25R at T.F. Green Airport. The tears were flowing off my face. I felt compelled to pull my car over and stare at this thing that I would probably never see again. George W. Bush was the president at the time.
In March of 2009 I had a friend that used to work for former Senator John Edwards. She had connections in the White House and arranged a tour for me in both the U.S. Capitol and The Obama White House. Once again, the tears flew off my face when I toured the two greatest institutions of this Republic.
A couple weeks ago, I had the chance to see Marine One fly over my house, along with its convoy, carrying The President of The United States. This time the president was Barack Obama. Marine One, along with its convoy, flew over not once but twice.
I now realize, in all of these great events, I wasn’t excited over the person or the objects. I was more excited at the symbol–the symbol that is America. Air Force One, Marine One, The U.S. Capitol, The White House and the President of The United States are all symbols of America. When Air Force One lands at some overseas location the locals don’t get excited over who is in office. Like me, they get excited over the symbol. The symbol is the dream of millions and millions of people, all around the World. It’s the dream of opportunity. It’s the dream of success. It’s the dream that anybody who comes here can make it. Attacking the person that occupies the office is an attack on America, which is not American. The dream still exists. However, it’s a different dream for the ones who were born here.
This is the only Country that I know. I have traveled abroad, when I was younger, serving in the military. In all my travels, I was homesick for Lincoln, Rhode Island. However, as the years went by I found myself dreaming of what it would be like to live in other countries. I lusted for Canada, Sweden, The United Kingdom, Australia, Amsterdam and New Zealand. I knew it was only a dream, because I’m an American and I will always be an American. I will be the one that will always cry at the site of Air Force One, Marine One, The White House and The U.S. Capitol. And I will always shed a tear regardless of who is occupying the office.
So, that is why I shed tears when I see a group of people that feel the need to denigrate the person that is occupying the office. They feel the need to lecture America to think what is American. They feel the need to express outrage in a person that they didn’t vote for by not working with him. These are people that are void of ideas. These are people that would prefer shouting over whispering, fighting over reasoning, saying no instead of yes and painting all that is good into everything that is evil. In all of this, they claim to be patriots. Patriots draped in the American Flag. The American Flag is another symbol of this Country that makes me shed tears. I can’t make it through a rendition of The Star Spangled Banner without getting choked up, and according to these people crying is a source of weakness.
Lately, I have been very critical of my Country. I am not liking what I see. The same opportunities that were around for my immigrant parents aren’t around for me. And I was born here. The minimum wage in this Country after adjusting for inflation is less than it was in 1972. As I look around, I feel bad for the generation that wastes their parents hard-earned money on a college education. As we talk about stagnating wages in this Country most people think it only applies to the unskilled labor trades, but make no mistake, it is spreading everywhere…except to the 1%.
These people who claim to be patriots are selling us a fake bill of goods. They tell us that people shouldn’t have a right to affordable health care. They tell us that people shouldn’t be paid a fair wage. They tell women that they shouldn’t have the right to do what they want with their bodies. They tell gays that they should “choose” to be straight. They tell people that the best way to end gun violence is to buy a gun and make sure that you have two parents living in the household. They also claim to be pro-life. That is no life I would ever want to live. These “patriots” who claim to love America don’t have a clue what it’s like to be an American. These “patriots” who cling to their guns and religion don’t have a clue of who the real God is. Instead, these “patriots” like to go around and call The President of The United States weak. These “patriots” like to go around supporting former communist KGB agents while expressing hate at their own president for being a socialist, communist, fascist, Muslim foreign born. These people are not “patriots” they are fascists, and it’s going to take a whole lot of patriots to make this a great Country.
We can agree to disagree, but what I refuse to go along with is this hatred for a person that symbolizes an institution you claim to love. What’s next for these people, burning the Bible?…maybe that is something I can support.