What is America?

During political seasons we hear talk of the “real” America. You can turn on 24 hour news channels and find stories about the “real” America. So what is it?

People want to argue that this is the greatest country on earth. Fine. Go ahead. I think about how divided we are. How the words liberal or conservative are dirty words to people. Or I think about our economy’s issues, or our healthcare, education, deficit, etc. How we all think that our version of how America should be is the best version.

You and I won’t agree on how this country should be. Nor what makes it a good country. Nor what laws should be or should not be in place. But we can agree on this –

America, “real” America is found in the cemeteries containing our servicemen throughout the world. That’s where the hopes and dreams of America lie. Where the young lives of our men and women were extinguished fighting on behalf of their country.

Is every war easily answerable and explained? No. I’ll never grasp the reality of war. I’ll never grasp the mindset of the 18 year old on the way to Hanoi. I will say that as long as citizens put their lives on the line for our country, America will continue to exist. You can look back on the 20th century and find darkness everywhere. America was involved in countless wars – Spanish American, WW1, WW2, Korea, Vietnam, Panama, Gulf War. Each can be argued a thousand different ways, each can be made just or in-just. But the one thing remains throughout – the heart of the serviceman/woman remains strong. The choice to lay down their own hopes and dreams for a time or perhaps forever was and is continually made. For this there is no thanks strong enough from the average citizen.

Today is the 69th anniversary of the Normandy invasion. Not every person on the beach that day knew why they were there. They only knew the country called and they responded. This idea, this hope is what keeps America moving forward despite our differences. Eighteen-year old boys off the farm for the first time cut down seconds after hitting the water. Desperate cries for mothers, fathers, family made. The anguish of so many families was made real that day, on both sides. The Germans themselves nearly lost a generation during 1939-1945. No one alive then was untouched by that day. June 6th is a watershed moment in our history. A moment when you can argue “good” overcame “evil.” With that said though – war is ugly, war is never “good.” War only tears apart. But in the fire of war, countries are forged. Look at the middle east in the past two years. The oppressed are shaking off constraints, and it’s messy, but freedom is being found. This is the same thing in 1944. This is where America is found.

The blood of our young, laid down in sacrifice for millions in the future. This is America