Friday, July 04, 2008

The Council has spoken

The Council met this week in the nation's capital in order to participate in the 4th of July celebrations. I could not be present due to the pressures of work. Despite this my own entry was chosen to be this week's winner. When I wrote my short essay on patriotism I was not thinking about the proximity of the Independence Day holiday. I was, in fact, only responding to the news of the day. However since that news was about Barack Obama's Independence Day speech I guess it all worked out that way.

Here is a sample of my post entitled Patriotism:

Democrats act as though the issue of patriotism was infinitely nuanced and intricately complex it is not. Patriotism simply means that you love your country - just as it is and that you support your country - just as it is. Nothing more and nothing less.

If you hate your country and think that it is evil then you are not a patriot.

The winning non-Council entry was Sacramento Host Breakfast by 365 and a Wakeup. Here is a sample:

I didn’t grow up planning to join the Army. My father immigrated to the United States so that his children would have the education he was denied in Indonesia. Being the oldest of eight children, my goal was to be the first in my family to graduate college and set the example for my siblings. I studied two years at Cal State Los Angeles and then I decided that to get the full college experience I needed to attend a University with soaring architecture and ivy lined courtyards. I was so fixated on what I thought college was supposed to be like that I chose to give up my grants and scholarships and transfer out of State to the University of Colorado at Boulder. I was so excited at being accepted that I completely overlooked the trifling details… you know little things like tuition and housing. Needless to say I learned my first and most enduring economic lesson, always plan ahead. Within 3 months I was working double shifts as a gas station attendant to pay for tuition. Another 2 months later I was disenrolled from the University and kicked out of dorms for not paying my tuition in full. I remember the timeline pretty accurately, because the next day I celebrated my 21st birthday by moving into my supervisor’s basement. As I sat there trying to figure out how I could get back into school I heard a commercial on the radio mentioning the GI Bill. And that was how I found my way into the Army.

[. . .]

In my first duty assignment I learned why our drill instructors focused so intently on hardening us. I needed that strength when we secured mass graves in Bosnia. I needed it when we faced refugee camps so crippled with famine that the fluid flow of the human body was reduced to hard, angular lines. And I needed that strength when we in countries where the only rules were the brutal laws of physics and ballistics. Exposure to these harsh realities could have broken our spirit, but there were joys to counterbalance the pain. Sometimes we would find it in the sing song lyrics of children chirping in high pitch squeals we couldn’t decipher. Other times we found our solace in the serenity our presence brought to areas where civilization had been stripped to its animal core. But mostly we found it in each other, and in the simple knowledge that our actions proved that life could triumph over death, if only for a moment.

Go read the rest, it is very moving.

I thank my fellow Council members for honoring me this month and I will attempt to justify similar trust in the future.