While watching the news of an interview of President Obama by a reporter, Bill O’Reilly I think was his name, it started to irritate me that the during the interview the reporter continuously interrupted the President while the President was answering the reporter’s question. And then I thought of how many people seem to hate the president and the existing government we live under. I know that in a prior blog I suggested that certain states break away from the United States. It was a thought and I was exercising my freedom of speech. There are times when I’m out in public and I hear someone go on a tirade about a certain political party or an elected government official. Sometimes my first reaction is a negative one. I used to want to debate, or argue, with that person who is making the negative comments. I can recall while I was working I had to attend a public gathering on a current issue in my area. After all the speeches a man came up to me and several others and began a long and negative speech about the issue. I believe the man was expecting some kind of reaction from me after listening to what he had said. I turned to him and said,” that is why I fought for this nation so people like you can have any goofy idea they want.” This took him by surprise and he looked at me, close his mouth and walked out.
Since then I’ve used that comment several times. It is a true statement. Since the United States succeeded from England, men and women have gone to war and paid the ultimate price so that you and I can expound any idea we have without fear of prosecution. Freedom of speech is a right that is earned and many times is tested in the Supreme Court in United States. When I signed up for the Army I believe that I did so for my country. A country that allows all kinds of lifestyles and cherishes the many rights guaranteed to us in the Constitution of the United States. I’m free to speak my mind, pursue any religion and align myself with any political party that I want. It may be one of the mainstream political parties, such as the Republicans or the Democrats. It may be one of the smaller parties like the Libertarian party, the Tea Party or the Socialist party. There is even a Communist Party in the United States. Other than the time of McCarthyism where communists were sought out and prosecuted, living in the United States allows you to be a part of that party without prosecution. As corny as it sounds I and the many men and women before me have fought for the freedom to exercise such rights.
That overwhelming feeling of pride in the United States of America was never more evident than it was this weekend at the beginning of the Super Bowl. As I sat at the TV with my family, I watched the singing of America the Beautiful and the United States Star-Spangled Banner. Both artists who sang the songs did a great job. But what amazed me was as I looked around the room, I noticed that my wife and my daughter-in-law both began to tear up while the songs were sung. I even noticed my son starting to swell up too. I was no exception to that. Why the emotion, it is because those songs mean so much to us. The feeling of pride of being a citizen in the United States usually reaches all of us. But this time it really hit home. The songs bring to us the dream of a wonderful place to be from and call home, the United States of America. No matter what your political affiliation or religious choice those two songs bring out the unity and pride in each of us. I will bet that if you look around your house while those songs were sung in such a grand setting, you probably found people, as well as yourself, filling up with emotion. One of those emotions probably was pride.
The price that is paid by many of the men and women in the armed forces has been the ultimate price. For those of us who survived the wars and went on to live the American dream, those songs represent what we were fighting for. Not particularly for any president or any Congress. Not for any political party or religion. We fought, I thought for the right of any citizen of the United States to exercise their rights as given in the Constitution United States. One of those rights is freedom of speech.
My sons and their families run the gambit in their political beliefs. I’m very proud of each of them, no matter what their political beliefs are. I and many others put our lives on the line so that each of them has that right. We fought for all the people of the United States to have those rights. I am proud that my sons and their families for exercising that right. The cost for that right has been very high and I imagine will continue to be high.
My thought of today was about the right of freedom of speech. And that I and others fought for those ideals and freedoms. I hope that you do not take it lightly and use those freedoms. Use your freedom of speech, exercise your freedom of speech and please do not take it for granted.