By Douglas E. Parsons; Major; USAF, (Ret)
America’s Open Arms,
“The poet called Miss Liberty’s torch ‘the lamp beside the golden door.’ Well, that was the entrance to America, and it still is. And now you really know why we’re here today. The glistening hope of that lamp is still ours. Every promise, every opportunity, is still golden in this land. And through that golden door our children can walk into tomorrow with the knowledge that no one can be denied the promise that is America. Her heart is full; her torch is still golden, her future bright. She has arms big enough to comfort and strong enough to support, for the strength in her arms is the strength of her people. She will carry on in the future unafraid, unashamed, and unsurpassed. In this springtime of hope, some lights seem eternal; America’s is.”
…I have been guided by the standard John Winthrop set before his shipmates on the flagship Arbella three hundred and eighty-four years ago, as they, too, faced the task of building a new government on a perilous frontier. “We must always consider”, he said, “that we shall be as a city upon a hill—the eyes of all people are upon us”. Today the eyes of all people are truly upon us—and our governments, in every branch, at every level, national, state and local, must be as a city upon a hill — constructed and inhabited by men aware of their great trust and their great responsibilities. For we are setting out upon a voyage in 2014 no less hazardous than that undertaken by the Arbella in 1630. We are committing ourselves to tasks of statecraft no less fantastic than that of governing the Massachusetts Bay Colony, beset as it was then by terror without and disorder within. History will not judge our endeavors—and a government cannot be selected—merely on the basis of color or creed or even party affiliation. Neither will competence and loyalty and stature, while essential to the utmost, suffice in times such as these. For of those to whom much is given, much is required.
President Ronald Reagan used the image as well, many times, in his speeches to the nation:
…I’ve spoken of America as the shining city all my political life, but I don’t know if I ever quite communicated what I saw when I said it. But in my mind it was a tall proud city built on rocks stronger than oceans, wind-swept, God-blessed, and teeming with people of all kinds living in harmony and peace, a city with free ports that hummed with commerce and creativity, and if there had to be city walls, the walls had doors and the doors were open to anyone with the will and the heart to get here. That’s how I saw it and see it still.
America’s Warrior’s Heroes
A hero (masculine) or heroine (feminine) refers to people who, in the face of danger and adversity or from a position of weakness, display extraordinary courage and the will for self-sacrifice—that is, heroism—for some greater good or benefit of all humanity. This definition originally referred to martial courage or excellence but has been extended to more general moral excellence among all American peoples.
Abraham Lincoln Paraphrase of Gettysburg address:
November 19, 1863
Eleven score and eighteen years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
Now in 1861-1865 America was engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met in many a great battle-field of that war and all future wars to date. We have come to dedicate a portion of America, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.
But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate — we can not consecrate — we can not hallow — this ground—the military cemeteries across these United States. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled in wars across the world, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract.
The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did in America’s battles.
It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought for America have thus far so nobly advanced.
It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead – America’s heroes, we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.
During the past thirty years America has performed with an all-volunteer military force to perform their duties around the world in such far flung places such as Bosnia, Kosovo, Panama, Granada, Benghazi, Iraq, Afghanistan and now Chad. The vast majority of these forces have performed heroically and reflected honor upon themselves and their fellow Americans but not all are required to perform the extreme self-sacrifice which designates them as heroes.
I repeat to you: A hero (masculine) or heroine (feminine) refers to people who, in the face of danger and adversity or from a position of weakness, display extraordinary courage and the will for self-sacrifice—that is, heroism—for some greater good or benefit of all humanity. This definition originally referred to martial courage or excellence but has been extended to more general moral excellence among all American peoples.
Now all who volunteer and sign up to serve their country are not hero’s by the strict definition of the word but they all volunteer for and are called to become a hero if the need arises or situation occurs that call upon them to lay down their life for their fellow Americans and for all too many, the need did arise.
Instead they are Americans, our fellow brothers and sisters in arms, who pledged to hold up the words of their oaths of office.
All of you out there who have signed up to serve have taken the following oath or oaths. For those of you who didn’t volunteer to serve in the military you deserve to know the pledge to you as Americans that your fellow military man gives to you, freely, and without reservation so that you might never know war and danger on the home front.
Enlistment Oath.— Each person enlisting in an armed force shall take the following oath:
“I, XXXXXXXXXX, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.”
Officers Oath—I, [name], do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.
Fellow Americans, these are their pledges to you and your country.
Congressional sessions open with the recital of the Pledge of Allegiance, as do many government meetings at local levels, and meetings held by many private organizations. It is also commonly recited in school at the beginning of every school day.
The Pledge of Allegiance of the United States, “I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” is an expression of your loyalty and allegiance to the federal flag and the republic of the United States of America.
It is a unique fact that America remains the only country in the history of warfare who after conquering the enemy gives their country back to those whom it formerly belonged.
America’s Family Hero’s
Today’s local heroes in our own community are those of us whom we know in our everyday lives. They are the mothers who with complete disregard for their own lives, reach out to save the lives of their children, friends, family members and others. They are the fathers who teach their children the values of bravery, self-sacrifice, the work ethic and the American Dream. They are the firemen and police, who with complete disregard for their own lives rush into perilous situations to save others; they are the mountain rescue teams that go into the deserts and mountains to save others in troubles. They are the farmer who rushed ¼ mile to save my father from being crushed in a corn picker. They are all American volunteers and embody the true volunteer American spirit throughout our land.
Other heroes whom we all know, and should be vastly proud of, are our own parents and the other parents we know that spend countless hours teaching us and their children to be great Americans… helpful, kind, loyal, and patriotic and the kind of person with whom you would want to be associated.
There is not a person within sound of my voice that does not remember coaching and teaching from their parents. My dad used the phrase “Make your word your bond”, and “Discern and do what’s right”. Took me a long time to find out what discern meant to me;
——Discernment is the activity of determining the value and quality of a certain subject or event and applying it to your situation; ——
My mother always told me to eat my vegetables and clean my plate because there were starving children in China.
I could never figure out how food from my plate could get to China in time to help that poor Chinese kid.
It is a joy for me to hear words and phrases coming out of my grandson’s mouth that I remember my father saying to me. It is the hero parents that pass on to future generations the true meaning of what it is to be an American. By their teaching and coaching and patriotism the future of America will continue to be strong and vibrant.
As we pay homage to those here that have gone on before, let us remember that we are Americans and as such should be proud and hold our heads up high. We are the shining city on a hill, we are the open door for the oppressed and weary, we are the strongest fighting force used of good the world has ever known, we are the parents that lead our families and children to be better than they think they can be, we are the most giving nation on the face of the earth and as such we should be proud.
As you leave here today, do not be afraid to say to yourself, I am an American and I am proud of my country.
GOD bless these families, GOD bless Melba, GOD bless this state of Idaho, and GOD bless the United States of America.