What Is Freedom Anyway?
The truth is that I cry, not because I am some overly idealistic patriot who thinks the United States can do no wrong. Quite the opposite. I love my country like I do many of my friends and family - as a beautiful soul full of potential and talent and also full of faults and mistakes.
The United States has been at the forefront of innovation in so many areas. We have birthed millionaires and visionaries, thinkers and leaders, geniuses and servants. We have built arguably the strongest economy in the world, some of the best institutions of higher learning, and many new products and ideas. We now have our first black president. We have been rated the most charitable country in the world. Our military has served with honor and heroism to end the world wars, rescue the innocent, and protect people around the world. We did that.
But we also have a horrendous and growing income gap between the rich and poor. We fall farther and farther behind in many metrics of health and education. Corrupt corporate influences on the government lead to unfair legislation. Our Congress is so divided as to shut our government down costing billions of dollars to our people. Our military has been responsible for appalling acts of abuse and inappropriate use of force. Historically alongside a legacy of freedom we have a legacy of oppression and even death. We did that too.
Never, Never, Never Giveup
So where does this leave me on Veteran's Day. How can I honor all the good and the service of our veterans while still recognizing all the change that still needs to happen? Ironically the military that is supposed to support our individuality and freedom largely does so by stifling the freedom of the troops through policies like don't ask don't tell and religious discrimination in the ranks for Jews, Muslims, and Atheists.
And how do I explain to my children what this day means? They have grown up with a country that has been at war (at least one) since before they were even born until now. What does it mean to live in peace?
The questions of how to make the hard life and death decisions required of each leader of the United States is one that I am thankful I don't have to make. There are no easy answers.
But in the end, I still hope and believe for a better future. One of hope, and opportunity for everyone. One where each person can create a beautiful life full of joy and giving and contribution. I hope that my children (who are also Canadian as my husband is from Toronto) grow up feeling a little that they are citizens of the world.
To me, these are the highest ideals of what we should all stand for. And on Veteran's Day I honor all those willing to fight and give to create a better world for everyone.
Wherever you are in the world, never give up. Never give up believing in the tenacity of the human spirit. That better is possible. That love is possible. That peace is possible.
I would love to hear your comments - what does Veteran's Day mean for you?