I know that I haven't made any posts in quite a long time. The work
hours are getting longer to the point where I can only browse the
messages here once a week or so. With my new, used truck I find I'm
not seeking solutions to problems as often. I recently came back from
of an active duty assignment and was able to enjoy the holiday here at
home. I wanted to share my thoughts with you, especially my brothers
and sisters in arms, active, reserve, retired or otherwise.
Oh, the stars at night, are shining bright… deep in the heart of
It was a beautiful evening as nightfall began to settle over my small
west Texas town. Off in the distance, claps, bangs, booms and
whistles could be heard, sporadically assailing the ears like the
spackling of distant cannon fire. The sun had retired beyond the
horizon, my world's edge illuminated by a thin band of red that
stretched into a pale darkness above. Clouds perched on the horizon,
black watchers which dampened the mood around me.
In the true west-Texas style of celebrating Independence Day, I
grabbed my folding lawn-chair, a cooler of beer and my pick-up keys.
I drove thirty feet across the parking lot, got out and stretched away
the labors of such a difficult drive. I had backed my truck up
against a picket fence, set up the lawn chair in the bed and started
the tunes on my stereo. It was time to settle in and watch the
As sad as it is, there really is nothing better to do in my town all
year. The city doesn't put on a fireworks display, so it's left to
the citizens to entertain themselves. There really is nothing better
than watching a bunch of drunken Texans trying to blow themselves (or
each other) up with fireworks. My apartment building parking lot
backs up against a field about a half mile long and a quarter mile
wide. Small neighborhoods border each side of the field. When the
fireworks get into full swing, it's like watching a Revolutionary War
reenactment without all the soldiers charging across the field.
Considering my location, maybe the battle for the Alamo would be more
appropriate. Fireworks go off on each side of the field like volleys
aimed at the opposing side. I flip a coin to decide who will be the
red forces, and who will be blue.
During this time, I sit down, crack open the beers and start to pray.
I thank God for our country, our freedom and my life here. It really
doesn't get much more American than this. I usually leave my heart
and mind open to whatever God wants to impress on me while watching
this private war of mine.
The red forces launched a sweet volley ironically followed up by a
small backyard explosion on the blue side.
As I watch, I think about the sacrifices made by our younger
countrymen back in the beginning; a bunch of farmers, lawyers, and
scientists taking up arms against a repressive government thousands of
miles away with superior forces here at home. The sacrifices of our
patriots are the reason I'm sitting here, watching, praying and hoping
that this will be a tradition for generations to come.
Invariably, my thoughts prayers were drawn to my brothers and sisters
in blue and green serving on a variety of battlefields: Iraq,
Afghanistan, Korea and others too numerous to list. They have placed
their lives in peril for me. Not just for me, but for all of my
fellow citizens across the expanse of America, and our friends and
allies around the world. Sometimes, my seven years of active service
doesn't seem enough to have paid for the privilege of being a citizen
of this great country, and I hope that the work I do as an active
reservist now makes up for the debt I feel I still owe to my country
I have volunteered for every battle, every opportunity that has arisen
in ten years of service. In a way I am thankful that I have not been
chosen or needed to serve in the front ranks, but at the same time I
want to be there with my brothers and sisters. I can only think that
God has a greater purpose or need for me elsewhere when the time
comes. For now, the task is left to others. To my fellow servicemen:
I pray for your successful completion of the mission and a safe return
home. Perform every task, whether great or menial, active engagement
or in support as if it will be the one to successfully win the war. I
know this is hard to do so far from home, but despite what many of you
hear, the real America is pulling for you all.
I hear on the news that the big-city fireworks displays are going to
be the best ever this year. They may be visually impressive, much
more so than what I get to watch every year, but the meaning is lost
to me in all the grandeur. I grew up in large cities. Those large
displays are more entertainment than they are about the meaning of the
day. Frankly, I prefer this backyard war. I sit in solitude and
ponder what happened almost 230 years ago; what it meant for those
early citizens and what it means for me today. I can imagine the
battle before me, and it reinforces the fact that our freedom and
independence were won in blood.
The Marine Corps values sum up the true meaning of the day: Honor,
Commitment and Courage. These values are what made and sustain our
nation. We cannot sacrifice these ideals to whims and enemies would
supplant the freedoms that were declared and pursued on this day.
These are the values we must all adopt, not just on Independence Day,
but every day of our lives.