My radio dial found a conservative station a few weeks ago and I listened for a while to one of the most stirring, hauntingly beautiful, patriotic songs I have ever heard: "Let Freedom Ring." I left my dial there for a bit and listened to the talk-radio host, a Great American, taking a number of calls from several other Great Americans.
It brought back memories of the 2008 presidential campaign, when righteous Republican candidates, True Americans, standing tall and proud in front of rows of giant American flags delivered rousing "This is our land" speeches to crowds of cheering True Americans.
More recently, at Tea Party rallies, there has been the soaring oratory by Constitution-loving, "take-our-country-back" Real Americans. Oratory that warns about those "Other Americans" who want to take away the guns, Bibles, and freedoms of Real Americans.
There have been other warnings and accusations against those Americans who presumably aren't Great, or True, or Real.
For example, the contemptible accusations that I, along with my fellow Democrats, are weak on national security and do not support our brave troops.
I have served my country honorably, "meritoriously," for 20 years. During those years, I would have laid down my life in defense of my country...and still would. I revere the men and women who have served us so heroically in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere, regardless of my views on any particular war. I know, without a doubt, that my fellow Democrats, fellow Americans, are at least as patriotic.
It saddens me--"infuriates" is perhaps a better word--when Republicans take sole ownership of the U.S. Constitution and of the American flag, take sole ownership of patriotism, and take sole ownership of "our land," this America that, last time I checked, still belonged to you and me, regardless of what political affiliation you or I may have.
It upsets me when I hear Republicans act as if they have a monopoly on loving our country. I know, for a fact, that I love America at least as much as they do. I loved it even before I set foot in America, while still dreaming of one day coming to America. And ever since that day arrived, that cold April day when an overjoyed, 17-year-old immigrant from the Netherlands landed in New York, I have loved America more and more, an America that has blessed me and my family with freedoms, opportunities and successes that people elsewhere only dream about.
When I hear Republicans accuse me, and my fellow Democrats, of "tearing up the Constitution," I get really upset because, you see, in order to become a U.S. citizen, I studied the U. S. Constitution, cherished its immortal words, and committed its preamble to memory...and the rest, to my heart. At my naturalization ceremony, I solemnly swore that I would support and defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic and that I would bear true faith and allegiance to that Constitution, so help me God.
I swore so again upon my enlistment into the U.S. military and, for a third time, when I received my U.S. Air Force commission.
"Take our country back?" From whom? From the nearly 100 million Americans who were born and raised in this country, who love America even more, if that's possible, than this 70-year-old naturalized geezer? From Americans, whose fatal flaw is that they happen to be Democrats?
Real Americans live throughout these United States, not just in the "heartland," not just in Sarah Palin's fictional and fanciful "Real America." Real Americans are not just Republicans, conservatives, libertarians, Tea Party supporters, or whatever. We are all Real Americans. There are no "Fake Americans."
I respectfully ask our Republican friends to challenge us, Democrats, on policy and politics, on party line and philosophy, even on principles, but, please, do not question our patriotism, our "Americanism," our love for God and Country, because when you do so you are not only dishonoring half of all Americans, you are doing a disservice to your causes, legitimate and righteous as they may be. You are also discrediting yourselves and, more important, you are demeaning and dangerously dividing the Real America you profess to honor and love.