Monthly Archives: May 2011
Have you ever really seen wind? Not really. We feel it. We see its’ effects: tree leaves blowing; foam on an ocean whitecap; an umbrella turned inside out on a city street. Some winds give gentle relief to a warm summers’ day and some wind stokes the flames of a wild fire. We know that wind is a consequence of weather. We can’t see it but we know it’s there.
Have you ever really seen freedom? Not really. Like wind, we feel it. We see its’ effects. We participate in peaceful gatherings; we pursue our happiness with friends of our choice; we live life to the beat of our own personal drummer. Freedom is a consequence of national character. We can’t really see it but we know its’ there.
We have faith in the weather and we have faith in freedom. But there is a very real difference. Weather simply happens. We batten down the hatches and wait for the consequences. We take it for granted.
Not so for freedom. Freedom is a demanding mistress. Freedom must be nurtured and this freedom nurturing is very complicated. Freedom is not achieved as much as it is compiled. Its’ durability comes from generation after generation of patriots who were willing to take a stand.
Every generation of Americans has had to answer the question that the siren of freedom asked of them: are you willing to shoulder the mantle and defend the foundation of freedom that our forbearers laid for us? At the dawn of our existence, are you willing to take up arms at daybreak on the Lexington Green against a superior force of Red Coats; as a member of a newly founded country, are you willing to take to sea to face the Barbary Pirates thousands of miles from home along the shores of Tripoli; four score and seven years after the founding of this most imaginative country, are you willing to preserve the Union at Little Round Top in Gettysburg; as the industrial revolution engages, are you willing to enter the trenches at Verdun; as fascism spread across the world are you willing to wade ashore in the face of withering fire at Omaha Beach or Guadalcanal; in the wake of an unsteady peace among giants, are you willing to advance up Pork Chop Hill; in the shadow of the Cold War, are you willing to pilot your helicopter at the nap of the earth in the Central Highlands of Vietnam; in the age of religious extremism, are you willing to fight house-to-house in Fallujah to root out terrorists? Most of our veterans did not sign on in the face of certain danger but did so because some things in our lives are worth defending. It is that simple.
These questions are by no means fair. No one knows with any certainty how they will react in crisis. When the stakes are high enough we fight for things we believe are worth defending. As parents, we instinctively defend our children. As humans, we instinctively defend ourselves. As soldiers charged with the defense of freedom, we fight alongside each other as our nation dictates.
If you have ever raised your hand to serve and defend this country, I salute you and honor your service to this marvelous experiment of America. She has proven herself to be worth fighting for. Without that commitment to protect and defend our way of life, the circumstances would for us, and our world, be different, indeed.
The noble profession of arms is a calling to a selective slice of our countrymen. Upon their shoulders do we place the terrible burden of the defense of this great nation and the defense of freedom for ourselves and our posterity. Time after time, and generation after generation, our youth has borne the horrible cost of freedom in its defense against the onslaught of tyranny. And they have never wavered in their commitment. They have never failed to deliver.
So what is required of us? It is more, I think, than simply placing a flag on the graves of the brave. It is more, I think, than giving inspirational speeches every Memorial Day. If they, who have given their last full measure of devotion, have willingly defended freedom of speech and freedom of assembly and freedom of religion is it not up to us to express ourselves as our founders intended and as our sons and daughters have defended?
In short, we must work hard to become the best citizens we can be; to accept and appreciate the gifts of those past generations of Americans who have borne every burden on our behalf. We must never take life and the many choices and opportunities it brings for granted.
Honor their commitment. Get involved in civics. Vote. Write. Speak. Assemble. Protest. Celebrate. Pray. Pursue happiness while ensuring it for our children’s children by teaching it through our actions. Children listen. Children watch. Children pattern behaviors. And so do adults.
Become worthy of the sacrifices of the many millions of Americans who have worn the uniform of their country: Some to fight; some to wait; but all to serve.
May God bless each and every one of them. And may God bless us all in this greatest country that has taught the world what freedom means; this country that knows the dear price of freedom and its burdens. Long may our flag wave over a free and freedom loving land.
If you were on the playground 40-odd years ago, you might hear names such as Bob and Billy and Joe. You still hear them today. Names I did not hear were these: Mumtaz; Chetan; Bimalkumar; Narenda. I’ve heard them as an adult, and especially so this week. You see, my mother needed surgery this week. She’d fallen and broken her hip bone. So, these four gentlemen, a cardiologist, an endocrinologist, a pulmonary specialist and an internist, and a host of other medical professionals of numerous nationalities, cared for my mom with great talent and skill. To be sure, there were plenty of native born Americans in the hospital but not enough.
These doctors immigrated to the United States for many reasons, I am sure. Clearly, they sought to maximize their own opportunities for career advancement but they also were answering a need here in the United States for skilled professionals. They fill roles that would otherwise go unfilled. Most importantly, they came here through legal means and they contribute.
Despite the high unemployment and underemployment we are experiencing in this country, somewhere between 2 to 3 million jobs stubbornly cannot be filled. And so we look towards recruiting immigrants to fill those jobs. It brings opportunity to them and fills a tremendous void in our country. Contrast this to the espoused position of those who would open the flood gates to illegals who bring with them nothing but a desire to leave their own country and seek to take more than they can ever give.
My personal events of this week also highlight the absolute quality of healthcare in America. Though my mother would deny it, she is no spring chicken. She is a complicated patient requiring a whole host of specialists to manage her care. I watched all of these people coordinate care with compassion and concern. My mother may not be young, but her work on this earth is not yet done; and through their skilled hands, that work will continue.
I could not help but wonder how this growing debate between the rival philosophies of Obamacare and the Republican budget authored by Paul Ryan would affect my mom’s case. Under the Paul Ryan plan, nothing would change for my mom. That plan keeps the faith with today’s retirees and those 55 and older. For my mom, it is a moot point. Not so under the Obama plan. We know that Medicare will be cut by $500 billion; that the number of Doctors will diminish while the number of people under care will increase; that a panel of 15 politically appointed bureaucrats would sit in judgment as to whether a person like my mom is a candidate for the surgery she just received.
President Obama frequently reminds us about the social contact in America. The Paul Ryan plan is the only plan that recognizes this contract. It’s the Obama plan that throws grandma under the bus. Who are we kidding? Does the President think we cannot read nor do math? The President and the Democrat establishment are using extreme scare tactics to peddle their agenda. The Paul Ryan plan is utilizing fact and logic to find a way forward for future care while honoring the commitment we, as a country, have made to our citizens.
I think the bravest person in Washington right now is Paul Ryan. He has been a consistent advocate for a sustainable future for this country. He has bucked the powers from both sides of the aisle. He has withstood the ridicule of the piranhas in DC who benefit from fear mongering and whose political fortunes rely upon shadowy half truths.
My mother’s experience this week has brought a lot of focus and personal skin to the game of the Federal budget debate. Meaningful reform in the entitlement areas of Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security hold the key to unlock the prosperity of the future. Time is running out.
You have heard this oath stated so many times that you can recite it in your sleep: I swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help me God.” So why is it that so many politicians engage in half-truths? Do two half-truths make a whole? And by politician, I am referring to our own President Obama who visited the Mexican border in El Paso, TX, this week to lecture the nation on something that we already know: we are a nation of immigrants. He reminded us of the inspiration, invention and innovation that have sprung into our national heritage from immigrant stock. Right he is on this point. My family is a product of the immigrant journey. Both sets of my Grandparents came through Ellis Island and established a home in New York City. My parents were raised there and established their life together. Were it not for immigration, I would not be here. I get that.
So, what half of what the President said on the border this week was less than wholly true? The mighty presumption is that all immigrants who arrive here are entitled to equal protection under the law regardless of whether or not they came here legally. Somehow, legal behavior is optional. And, if you have a romantic story to tell about how you broke the law and achieved, so much the better.
The President told the story of Jose Hernandez, a child of migrant Mexican parents, who aspired to become an astronaut, and became one. (Astronaut Hernandez was actually born in this country so he is entitled to US citizenship.) The implication is that every illegal is a diamond in the rough. Here is the other half of the truth: for every success story such as Mr. Hernandez, there are hundreds more who are members of drug cartels and Mexican gangs such as MS-13. They are responsible for driving a dagger even deeper into the heart of our cities and towns in America. Also missing from the untruthful half is the fact that if we cannot secure our borders from Mexicans, neither can we secure them from Saudis or Yemenis or Iranians who wish to do us harm. It is romantic, indeed, to believe that everyone who crosses the border to America shares the Emma Lazarus notion that every immigrant is tired or poor or yearning to breathe free. Too many wish us harm and all who disobey our laws must be stopped, not rewarded.
The President wants to crack down on those who take advantage of the shadowy existence of illegals. Amen to that, I say. Shed a light upon the massive underground economy that preys upon illegals and withholds its wages from honest US citizens.
The President is right to want reform of the US immigration system. But let us first start by demonstrating that we can fix the urgent portion of the problem, the one that prohibits us from taking full advantage of the best and brightest that the world has already sent to our shores legally: those in college; those at work in our industries. Don’t send those back. Encourage them to work here and innovate here and inspire here.
Mr. Obama also spoke about a path to citizenship for those who have broken the law. He suggested that illegals could make good if they simply paid back taxes, paid a fine, got to the back of the line and waited their turn. We’ve seen those proposals in writing and they are ridiculous. He is merely pandering to those who would vote for his party if fully enfranchised to do so.
If you truly wish to fix the immigration problem, Mr. President, do not tie it to the DREAM Act or other citizenship compromises. Fix the part that is easy. Fix the quotas, the waiting, and the arcane laws. Fix the porous border that you claim is now airtight. Last November, this issue was front and center in our collective consciousness. The State of Arizona passed their own law to defend their border because the Federal government refused to protect them. Nothing has significantly changed along the border since then to inhibit border crossings save an anemic economy to the north.
The President spoke with two tongues to tell two truths this week. With one he spun the rhetoric of the American Dream of unbridled opportunity for those who bring inspiration and imagination to America through moral and legal means. As for the other half, the story of good or bad intentions must take a back seat to the realities of the situation: illegal means illegal. Those who break the law must suffer the consequences. And the consequence of breaking the law cannot be American citizenship. The President received a lot of applause at his speech. Listen for mine: it’s the sound of one-hand clapping.
And that’s the whole truth.