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Saturday, July 4, 2015

Happy Birthday, America


I saw an article on the internet the other day about a book that has recently been published.  It is called, The Girl With Seven Names, by Hyeonseo Lee.  The article recounted some of the stories in the book, which is about her escape as a refugee from North Korea, and the subsequent rescue of her family.  I am looking forward to reading it.  The various blurbs about the book I have seen mention such things as the possibility of being arrested if you didn’t have a picture of the nation’s leader on your wall, and even if you did, it had to be “properly” cared for.  She apparently tells about the fear under which she lived, in a country where everyone is afraid and cannot trust others because many become informers out of fear.  She also talks about the controlled information she was given growing up about her country and the world, and the fact that she had no access to accurate information about how the rest of the world really lives.  

I have heard about people working with young African boys who have grown up in a war torn world, whose experience is that soldiers come and force them into the military.  Their first task of service, to harden them and make them learn to obey, was to shoot their own parents, then they were hauled off to battle.  Once the army tires of them, they are discarded like trash and left as orphans wherever they happen to be.  I have read about repressive nations living under Sharia and near Sharia law, in which a single hair showing outside a woman’s covered head is a crime subject to beating or other such punishments, and a starving person caught stealing food will have his hand instantly chopped off, while bystanders are forced to gather around to watch.

I’m guessing today is just another day for many people in the world.   But when I know of things like that going on in the world, I realize how blessed I am to have been born in the country that celebrates today as its birthday.  Now don’t get me wrong, I am the first to admit the U.S.A. isn’t perfect and has made our share of mistakes.  And let me tell you, there are some presidents we have had whose pictures I have NO interest in hanging on my wall.  But I do believe ours is a country that strives to value individual lives, and believes that individuals should be permitted control over much of their own lives through the exercise of freedom, and our nation desires that not only for ourselves, but for other nations in the world.

I had a friend from Swaziland, Africa some years ago.  He told me that he had very fond affection for the United States.  He stated that it had not been that many years since they had gained their freedom from colonialism, and were seeking to establish their own free nation.  He went on to say that, although there were other countries with historical ties who should have helped them with aid and support as they began, those countries did not do so.  However, he went on, the United States did, even though there was no obligation or expectation for them to do so.  He went on to state that the United States provided that aid without any strings attached that required any kind of subservience or conditions.  After years of hearing people bash the U.S. for its international behaviors, some of which have definitely been very misguided, as my friend shared the story of Swaziland, I felt a great deal of pride, knowing we had also done some things right when others had not. 

We will see fireworks tonight, and have picnics today, but there won’t be tanks rolling in our streets to make sure we remember who is boss, or to see if the President’s picture is on the wall properly.  Near as I can tell, more people are trying to escape from places like North Korea INTO the United States, than are trying to escape from the United States into places like that.

I was honored to receive an invitation to the Change of Command ceremony for a Colonel friend of mine down at Fort Hood next week.  I am sorry I won’t be able to attend, but I appreciate what he and his fellow soldiers do to help keep or spread freedom in our world.  My father served in World War II, my brother served in Desert Shield and my father-in-law was career military, and I appreciate what they have done so that I was not forced to shoot my parents or to watch someone’s hands being chopped off by thug policemen.  The U.S.A. may not be perfect, but it is a lot closer to it than many nations in our world.  Ask Hyeonseo Lee, if you don’t believe me.   HAPPY BIRTHDAY, AMERICA!

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