Patriotism


submitted by Katie Marie 

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You stay up for 16 hours
He stays up for days on end.

You take a warm shower to help you wake up.
He goes days or weeks without running water.

You complain of a ‘headache’, and call in sick.
He gets shot at as others are hit, and keeps moving forward.

You put on your anti war/don’t support the troops shirt, and go meet up with your friends.
He still fights for your right to wear that shirt.

You make sure you’re cell phone is in your pocket.
He clutches the cross hanging on his chain next to his dog tags.

You talk trash about your ‘buddies’ that aren’t with you.
He knows he may not see some of his buddies again.

You walk down the beach, staring at all the pretty girls.
He patrols the streets, searching for insurgents and terrorists.

You complain about how hot it is.
He wears his heavy gear, not daring to take off his helmet to wipe his brow.

You go out to lunch, and complain because the restaurant got your order wrong.
He doesn’t get to eat today.

Your maid makes your bed and washes your clothes.
He wears the same things for weeks, but makes sure his weapons are clean.

 You go to the mall and get your hair redone.
He doesn’t have time to brush his teeth today.

You’re angry because your class ran 5 minutes over.
He’s told he will be held over an extra 2 months.

You call your girlfriend and set a date for tonight.
He waits for the mail to see if there is a letter from home.

You hug and kiss your girlfriend, like you do everyday.
He holds his letter close and smells his love’s perfume.

You roll your eyes as a baby cries.
He gets a letter with pictures of his new child, and wonders if they’ll ever meet.

You criticize your government, and say that war never solves anything.
He sees the innocent tortured and killed by their own people and remembers why he is fighting.

You hear the jokes about the war, and make fun of men like him.
He hears the gunfire, bombs and screams of the wounded.

You see only what the media wants you to see.
He sees the broken bodies lying around him.

You are asked to go to the store by your parents. You don’t.
He does exactly what he is told even if it puts his life in danger.

You stay at home and watch TV.
He takes whatever time he is given to call, write home, sleep, and eat.

You crawl into your soft bed, with down pillows, and get comfortable.
He tries to sleep but gets woken by mortars and helicopters all night long.

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I think we can all vividly recall the events of 6 years ago. Most of us sat, glued to the television watching in horror as the clips were played over and over and over again. A jetliner slamming into one of the twin towers, an orange burst of fire exploding out the other end. Smoke, sirens, screaming, people thrusting themselves out of windows and plummeting to their deaths on the New York City street below.

Voices of on-the-scene reporters turning to panic and cameras jolting, rushing, turning, bouncing… The towers collapsing, caving in on themselves with a plume of smoke, debris and waves of dust. People everywhere shouting, crying, bleeding, making a mad dash for safety.

The lives inside the buildings were quickly snuffed out. Officials, office workers, waitresses, civilians, firefighters, and on the list goes… Here one moment and the next hurled into eternity.

Three planes, all filled with people who had full schedules, were meeting demands, or perhaps taking a vacation or going to visit family, unaware of the hijackers in their midst who had bigger plans. Plans that would thrust eternity on all of them. The twin towers in New York City, the Pentagon in Washington DC, a lonely field in Pennsylvania, all victims to these planes overtaken by hijackers.

The horrific scenes played over and over and over and over again on our television screens, turning our stomachs in shock and horror and bringing tears to our eyes. I remember gaping at the monitor as a tremendously huge plume of smoke backdrops the Lady Liberty against the New York harbor and thinking, “This is America?”

Americans held their breath, wondering what on earth was happening? What plane would go down next? Is this some sort of war? Who was attacking? Where was this attack coming from? And then the ultimate question, Where was God? Why did He allow this to happen?

Tough questions, all of them… But the biggest was, Why God?

Why did hundreds of innocent lives lay ruined and crushed beneath layers of dust and charred beams? Where was God when the hijackers took over, when planes crashed, when explosions erupted, when towers crashed, when death stole in and claimed so many? If God is so good, why did He allow this to happen?

Can I claim to know answers and resort to eloquence to ease the national distress that overtook our country? Can I expect to understand the ways of God? Could I declare that this was fitting punishment against an immoral and wicked nation? No. I can not.

We were never promised lives free of pain and heartache. We were never told that we would always live in comfort and ease. In fact, Christ Himself told us to expect wars and catastrophes.

Was He there that fateful day? Yes. He who sees the sparrow that falls from its nest was there that day. He felt the pain, He carried the sorrow, He held the grief-stricken loved one, and He felt the hatred of evil we all were feeling.

Some things were simply not meant to be understood in this life. But I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things of yesterday, nor things present, nor things of tomorrow, nor height, nor depth… indeed, nothing will be able to separate us from the love of God which He invested in us through His only Son.

If you don’t know that love, you will never be able to come to grips with tragedy.

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There are many things I have taken for granted in my life, and I say this to my shame. It seems as though until you experience the lack, or whatever it may be personally effects your life, do you realize how much you took for granted, and how foolish it was.

Some things I take for granted are small and of little importance. For instance, running water. Last winter I learned what a blessing it is to have water flowing out of the faucet when you turn it on. All my life I’ve known faucets to relinquish their substance of h2o when I turn the knob or lift the lever. It wasn’t until one morning I turned the faucet on and nothing came out of the spigot did I realize how much I took for granted the maze of plumbing pipes below me when they’re in proper working order. That morning I had to melt snow to wash my face, I had to drink bottled water, and horror or horrors, I could not take a shower. In fact, the lesson of how much I take running water for granted stretched on for 2 days before the plumber could fix our problem. By then the message really got through to me.

Yes, I purposely put that really handy feature in today’s life under the not-so-important-things-I-used-to-take-for-granted. For there are things of much more intrinsic value. Running water I still deem a necessity, but when it wasn’t working, there were other avenues we were able to take. We had access to water through our kind neighbors and friends—all of whom have running water (I wonder if they know how blessed they are)—who wouldn’t allow us to live in thirst and dehydration. It was just a lot of extra work and hassle.

It seems like the most valuable treasures I possess in my life, I take for granted the most. One such treasure would be the Blood of Christ.. I forget how much Christ sacrificed for me that I might have eternal life. His nail-scars have a tendency to fade into the oblivion of day-to-day life. I don’t remember how precious He is. We were able to live without running water, yet if His blood had not flowed that day some 2000 years ago, we would be creatures without hope with nothing to live for.

There’s another element in life that I have taken for granted. It’s on a more American level. On 9/11 when firefighters and rescue workers gave their lives in a quest to save their fellow man, I took them and their families for granted. I thought their brave deeds were indeed heroic and honorable but I did not consider the personal sacrifice they made, the pain they suffered and the void they left. I honored and respected them for what they did, but didn’t take time to consider and appreciate who they were.

And then there were the brave men and women who were deployed to quench the terror of the terrorist, bring freedom to Iraqis and defend our own freedoms as a nation. Yes, I took them for granted too. The troops registered in my mind as the number I heard over the news. I confess that seldom did I stop to consider each number as a person, with families they had to leave behind, friendships they had to put on hold, and lives they laid on the line when duty called. Many sacrificed everything for the sake of my freedom and protection.

Not to say that the sight of a flag-draped coffin never insinuated a tear, or never caused my heart to beat to a patriotic rhythm. I guess I just thought of our soldiers more as brave extra-human super-heroes to respect and not so much as people to appreciate. It’s because I took them for granted.

I criticized the imperfections of our nation and focused more on the outrageous disgust of the sins and perversion that has taken hold of it. Our national heroes in the form of men in uniform were like faded background entities that I seldom considered.

The horrors of 9/11 had a different effect on my brother. The firefighters and rescue workers were his heroes. He joined the fire department as soon as his age would allow him. He took up EMT and pretty much lived for the sound of his pager. I ceased to take his work for granted as I heard the tales of fires he fought and lives he had saved.

9/11 also sparked an indignation against the destruction the terrorists employed that day, and the innocent lives they took. Being a firefighter and EMT wasn’t enough. He joined the army.

I can no longer find it in me to take our soldiers or their families for granted. I realize now what kind of sacrifices they make and I can’t help but appreciate them far more than words can say. No, our country is not perfect. But I do love it. It is the place God has blessed me to call home. And I can’t help but be proud of my brother, proud to be an American, and proud to truly know this nation as the land of the free and home of the brave. I thank God for the blessings for which I have for so long taken for granted.

To those of you who serve our country, I say a big thank you for the sacrifices you have made for those who usually just take you for granted. It’s because of you and people like you that I can live in peace and freedom. And to your family members and friends, well, now I know what your shoes feel like.