Thursday, July 03, 2008

HAPPY FOURTH OF JULY




These are photos I took of the Washington Monument and the WWII Memorial in Washington, DC, during my mother's recent visit for my 20th anniversary. Both of us reflected on how proud my dad would have been had he lived long enough to see the World War II Memorial finally erected. He fought in the US Navy during WWII and only got his discharge after he was already serving in the Korean Conflict. Needless to say, me and brothers were always proud of the old man and even though he never told us any war stories, he was our war hero because he served his nation with honor and distinction. His generation were willing to make sacrifices so that others could remain or perhaps for the first time embrace freedom. They placed their own convenience, comfort and even personal safety on the line for their country. Some things were worth risking your life to protect or obtain.

We have such patriots today serving in our military. Many brave men and women stationed in Afghanistan, Iraq, but also in Korea, Europe and at sea around the world. We should not forget them this Independence Day. My two parishes have been saying the Prayer to Saint Michael every day after Mass since the first soldier, sailor, airman or marine arrived in the Persian Gulf. Many regular and reserve military have been on numerous dangerous tours and missions. Some have been seriously wounded and some have made the supreme sacrifice. No matter what your political affiliation and regardless of your personal opinion on the specifics of this particular war, remember the troops go when they are sent. The bullets, grenades, missiles and torpedoes kill and mame no matter why they were launched. Pray for peace, pray for a speedy end to the war and pray for the safe return of our troops. But remember, this will not be over in a short time. We had troops in Germany, Japan and Korea long after peace treaties had been signed. America cannot fight and run. We always stayed to rehelp rebuild and restore. Ironically, that component is often forgotten. One day, Father Brighenti and I visited Paris by taking the train from London and going through the famous Chunnel. Once in France, someone noticed we were Americans (could have been my VISA card that has the US Flag on it). We got a terse rebuke from someone who disliked President Bush and said we should stay out of foreign affairs completely. I replied that I did not have enough time to debate the decision to go to war with Iraq, HOWEVER, I did bluntly remind my French inquisitor that had it not been for the USA, he might be speaking German today and we would have flags with black swastikas emblazoned on red, rather than the traditional blue, white and red of the French drapeau tricolore. When we got back to Great Britain, it was comforting to see the opposite response. No matter where we went in London or elsewhere in England, people warmly welcomed us and once they saw were from the United States, they inevitably would throw in a spontaneous "God Bless America." Even those who did not like or approve of their Prime Minister Tony Blair and/or our own President George Bush, still showed a friendly alliance that expressed a multi-generational relationship and gratitude. We heard some of the real old-timers tell stories in the local pub of what happened during WWII and the nightly bombings of London by the Nazi Luftwaffe. Hearing an old British sailor tell how he became friends with an American who voluntarily came to the UK before Pearl Harbor (Dec. 6, 1941) and joined the RAF to fight Hitler and the Third Reich was something I'll never forget.

Fourth of July is our Independence Day but it is also our wake up day. We Americans have to ask ourselves, am I a good citizen? What am I doing to make my country better? Too many of us never vote but we all complain. Too many of us let someone else defend, protect, and serve us and we do little in return. Yes, we have the shame of slavery and segregation in our past and today we have the shame of racism and the horrors of abortion and euthanasia in this 'land of the free.' Freedom, as Pope John Paul the Great reminded us, is NOT equivalent with license or unrestricted liberty. Freedom is the power and ability to do what one OUGHT to do because one chooses to do it. As T.S. Elliot would say, it is doing the right thing for the right reason. We should never forget that Adolph Hitler and Benito Mussolini were ELECTED into office. Though they imposed a fascist regime, they got into power because they got the votes. After the war, Nazi soldiers and politicians were asked why did you go along with the evil that was done? Many replied "I was merely obeying orders" or "I was merely following party rules and regulations." Today, we have politicians who 'personally oppose abortion' but consistently vote 'pro-choice' (a real oxymoron since the unborn is given no choice whatsoever). Those who love America must want her to do and to be better in every way. Apathetic voters and party-hack politicians wreak more havoc on our nation that anyone can imagine.

On this Fourth of July, let us be grateful we live in a free nation where we can practice our religion without fear, intimidation or persecution. At the same time, since we live in a democratic-republic, we the people are responsible for what our government does or does not do. We elect people into office or we vote them out the next election. Do we vote with our pocket books and wallets and make decisions based on our own convenience and comfort OR do we stand up for principles like those who died to keep our country free? Those who died to erardicate slavery died for a noble cause. Those who neglect their constitutional right to vote commit a sin of omission when they allow those with evil agendas to get into office. The balance of the Supreme Court could be decided by the next President. How many Americans will vote based on the price of gasoline? How many will stay home because their candidate is not in the race? What about the men and women who have fought and died overseas for our nation? Was their sacrifice in vain? Show your appreciation to our brave military whenever you see one of them in public. And show them the ultimate respect by electing GOOD, MORAL and NOBLE politicians into office who place the common good before their own career management.

5 comments:

Journey of Truth said...

From a Sr. Chief's wife, we thank you, Father, for praying for us!! We are grateful for our Spiritual Soldiers (Priests), too. Happy Independence Day, Father.

Laura The Crazy Mama said...

Very good post. You are so right about everything you wrote (did you really sass that French person? Awesome!).

I went to D.C. last year and I was most impressed by the Korean War memorial and the quote:
"Our Nation honors her sons and daughters who answered the call to defend a country they never knew and a people they never met."
was the only thing that made me cry when we were there. It got caught up in my throat and I choked back the tears that the reality of that statement brought to my mind.
I am so proud to be a part of this country and I try every day to raise my children to be the same.

Orthfully Catholic said...

Happy 4th of July Father from the Seminarians at Orthfully Catholic!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for writing this article. Know that you and all the clergy are in my prayers.
-SOF soldier in Afghanistan

Padre Giovanni Trigilio said...

God bless all our brave men and women of the US Military. They endure real hardships and encounter real suffering while many of us civilians complain over the least bit of incovenience. We moan about the price of gasoline while our troops are being shot at with bullets, RPGs and IADs. I have great respect for the families of our armed forces who also bear a heavy burden while we complain that our tax rebate was not enough or that it came too late. Freedom and Liberty have a price and national security is not an option but an obligation for those who govern our nation.

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