This week has been a special week for me. I share my birthday with Veterans Day. This also was the week that OOIDA held the annual Truckers For Troops telethon. You might guess that veterans hold a special place in my heart and I think we should take better care of them. Our military people are taught the meaning of patriotism in a very physical I started asking myself what it means to serve our country. That is what I want to share with you.

I was fortunate enough to be too young to go to Vietnam before it ended. After that, America enjoyed a relatively peaceful time. There were conflicts that came along and I don’t ever want to minimize the service of anyone. At that time, my country didn’t need me. By the time Desert Storm came along, I was too old to go. The military was looking for a younger man.

This has left me in a real strange position. I love my country and would fight for it any day. Yet, I am not a veteran. I never will be. I will never be honored for my military service to our country. At the same time, 2 of my 3 best friends are Vietnam Vets. My oldest brother was a vet from the same war. A guy from my church got drafted and then returned with part of the muscle on his left arm blown off. I feel a deep appreciation for the fact that I didn’t have to go to war because of the sacrifices my friends made. I have a cousin that was a chopper pilot in Vietnam Nam. I remember when he came home after his tour showing me his helmet that he wore. It had a bullet hole through the top of it barely missing his head by a fraction of an inch. I feel somewhat guilty that I didn’t serve as they did. When I confronted my vet friends about this, they said that I shouldn’t feel guilty for anything. I should be happy that I didn’t have to go. They helped me to understand that fighting for our country meant more than dodging bullets and serving in the military.

That’s where this story really begins. I started to define the meaning of serving my country. My friends helped me by explaining that if I wasn’t here (paying taxes) doing what I do that they wouldn’t have been provided for there. However, my duties to country go much deeper than paying taxes. Serving our country as citizens also includes respect for authority, honor, duty, and country. We also have the responsibility to direct our government. We are a government that was conceived with the idea that we could be self governing and support the best interests of the citizens and country. That doesn’t mean that we have to choose a party and reject any idea from the other party. It means that we are supposed to sit down and discuss ideals with an open mind to be able to choose the best path for our country. These ideals are not limited to a national scope. They are intended to start at the local level and dictate the direction of the community which will be a voice in the next larger body of citizens and so on until the will of the people has filtered to the national level. It is our patriotic duty to participate in this process.

Supporting our troops is a popular emotion shared by many Americans. What this entails is much more than putting a sticker of a ribbon on our cars! It is our duty to country to never allow our troops to be sent into harms way for any purpose other than the protection of our country. Not pay back. Not profiteering. Not country building. Not the spread of western values. We are to lead by example to be the guiding light to the rest of the world. Entice others to embrace the values we hold dear based on their merits.

Our obligation is to establish the authority that we respect. Honor our creation by establishing standards that the rest of the world can look toward as a beacon of freedom. Answer the call of duty to our country notwithstanding membership in our military, but at all levels of civic duty. Of the most important duties we are charged with is duty to country. We must educate ourselves with an open mind to seek out the best options for our country. This is how we honor our military people. We must never allow any soldiers’ service to be in vain. That is the ultimate in disrespect.

As we get older and more mature, we are better able to provide a more diverse solution to our problems. This is based in the theory that we learn more as we get older. Not become set in our ways but grow as our knowledge increases. Much of our future can be sorted out by simply looking at the past. Most of the situations that we face today or at least something similar, our forefathers faced in the past. We must not forge ahead with the mindset that we are the first to face these challenges. We have a very good template established with well thought out guidelines. Take time to read the constitution. As you read, understand that serving our country started with a relatively small group of people that held dear the ideals that founded and have served our country well many years ago. The more you know of history the better you will be at directing the future. Don’t allow special interest to sway a decision that is not in the best interest of our country.

I find peace in the knowledge that I am fighting for our country right here on the home front. I embrace the same values that our soldiers fight for. That is for me to have the right to express my opinion. Remember, it is not “this” country, it is “our” country.

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