Re­flec­tions on Amer­ica

Siloam Springs Herald Leader - - OPINION - David Wil­son

Fif­teen years ago—in June of 2002—I en­joyed a cou­ple of ex­pe­ri­ences that are worth rem­i­nisc­ing about.

My fam­ily went to see an in­cred­i­ble air show at the Lit­tle Rock Air Force Base, and dur­ing that same month I got to see a sit­ting pres­i­dent in per­son and up close.

But be­fore we get to that, let’s ac­knowl­edge that to­day is Flag Day and it should be highly com­mem­o­rated.

To some Amer­i­cans, Flag Day does not mean as much as it once did and that’s a shame.

Fur­ther­more, when we re­cite the pledge of al­le­giance, we some­times do it with­out pas­sion in our hearts. But it would be far bet­ter to fo­cus on the im­por­tance of cer­tain words… al­le­giance… repub­lic… un­der God… lib­erty… jus­tice… for all.

To­day some peo­ple do not show al­le­giance to the flag and al­le­giance to the coun­try as a mat­ter of con­vic­tion. And to some peo­ple, the idea of us be­ing a repub­lic un­der law is re­jected.

We know this be­cause daily news re­ports show us ex­am­ples of peo­ple who do not re­spect oth­ers, do not re­spect the law, and do not re­spect the coun­try.

On Flag Day, how­ever, it is good to re­mem­ber that even though some do not love Amer­ica, there are still mil­lions who do.

It is good to re­mind our­selves that we have much to ap­pre­ci­ate and it is al­ways good to say a quiet prayer for the coun­try, ask­ing for peace and har­mony among her cit­i­zens.

In ad­di­tion, it is good to en­joy what the pre­am­ble to the Con­sti­tu­tion re­ferred to as “…the bless­ings of lib­erty…”

Pa­tri­otic ob­ser­vances and spe­cial times with fam­ily are im­por­tant and that’s part of what I re­mem­ber about June of 2002.

The air show I spoke of was on June 1 of that year. I took my chil­dren, and we were joined by my brother and his fam­ily. It was an amaz­ing aerial per­for­mance and it con­cluded with an in­cred­i­ble dis­play by the United States Navy’s Blue An­gels.

My sons were im­pressed with the roar of the jet en­gines. My daugh­ter was only five, but I think she en­joyed it quite a bit too. At least I don’t re­mem­ber her com­plain­ing.

The Arkansas Demo­crat-Gazette re­ported the next day that 100,000 peo­ple were in at­ten­dance at the air show.

I wrote in a jour­nal en­try at the time that I was glad that we all got to go, and that “…the Blue An­gels put on a big show….”

As fate would have it, two days later, on Mon­day, June 3, 2002, my brother and I re­turned to Lit­tle Rock to hear Pres­i­dent Ge­orge W. Bush speak.

My brother worked with Repub­li­cans in Clay County and he se­cured tick­ets for the pres­i­den­tial ap­pear­ance from the Mike Huck­abee cam­paign. (Huck­abee was run­ning for his sec­ond full four-year term as gover­nor in 2002).

We got in line out­side the State­house Con­ven­tion Cen­ter at 8:40 a.m. and got in­side af­ter about an hour, and then had to wait two more hours be­fore the pres­i­dent would be there to speak.

I wrote in my jour­nal, “It turned out to be a very mem­o­rable ex­pe­ri­ence that was worth the wait­ing. Pres­i­dent Bush did

not say a lot of new things in his speech. He talked about the on­go­ing war on ter­ror­ism and how Amer­i­cans can fight ter­ror by do­ing good to their neigh­bors.”

Af­ter his speech, the pres­i­dent shook hands with many in the crowd and au­to­graphed the tick­ets that some held out for him to sign. My brother and I were very close to him, but we didn’t fight our way through the crowd to shake his hand.

I wish we had. We were only about six feet away from him at one point and it would have made the day more mem­o­rable to say we shook hands with a pres­i­dent while he was in of­fice.

To­day, 15 years later, June is still a great time to en­joy Amer­ica and to spend qual­ity time with fam­ily. For that I am grate­ful.

And even though the coun­try is still deal­ing with the re­al­ity of ter­ror­ism, and even though some peo­ple choose to in­ten­tion­ally dis­honor the Amer­i­can flag, I re­main grate­ful.

I am grate­ful that many of you feel the same way I do, that the Amer­i­can flag means some­thing ex­tremely sig­nif­i­cant.

I am grate­ful that Amer­ica is still strong, in spite of any dif­fi­cul­ties and dis­cord. And I am grate­ful that we are free to cel­e­brate our free­dom, direct our own lives, and prac­tice our faith as we see fit.

That’s what Amer­ica has al­ways been all about. It is not, as some peo­ple think, an op­pres­sive place in which rad­i­cal changes are needed. On the con­trary, it re­mains the world’s best hope for peace, har­mony, op­por­tu­nity, and free­dom.

That’s true on Flag Day. And ev­ery day.

— David Wil­son, EdD, of Spring­dale, is a writer, con­sul­tant and pre­sen­ter, who grew up in Arkansas but worked 27 years in ed­u­ca­tion in Mis­souri. You may e-mail him at dwnotes@ hot­mail.com. The opin­ions ex­pressed are those of the au­thor.

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