Looking at the Atlantic Ocean off the Virginia Beach coast, I occasionally see US Navy ships on the horizon, F-18 Hornets flying in formation, the Coast Guard helicopter overhead, and porpoise darting in and out of the waves; it’s just a part of the scenery. Having lived in Glenview, Illinois, in the years prior to the naval base closing, and outside Annapolis, Maryland, for a year, I’m very used to seeing our men and women in uniform and experiencing a military presence where I reside. What changes for me is a deeper appreciation for the job our military performs and for the freedom we cannot take for granted.
Most of the time I can go about my life following a routine that includes working on the Constitutional Literacy curriculum for our BasicsProject.org website, writing articles about the relevance of our Fundamental Law, taking my daily constitutional along the beach, and performing the chores that demand my attention, but never far from these distractions is the daily reminder that there are men and women who have dedicated themselves to our security; who have placed their lives in harm’s way to protect this absolutely ordinary life I am privileged to lead.
Perhaps the best way to really understand this reality is to contrast it with another. Around the world there are people who live in countries where citizens have never experienced the freedoms that our government was instituted to protect, who will never have the opportunities afforded to Americans to innovate, lead, and maintain the lifestyle to which we are accustomed. It is almost obscene to think that in some countries, children are subject to diseases long eradicated in our own country, hungry because there is never enough food to satisfy their appetites, and whose safety is at risk because fighting factions are unconcerned about the accidental loss of life during skirmishes and all out war between groups vying for power.
Every four years we experience an election in this country in which power of office is transferred peacefully from one person to another. How many Americans have endured a coup, war between an enemy power and our troops on native soil, or lived with the uncertainty which can stem from a majority faction taking power and changing the laws under which we operate. This is because our written Constitution was designed to preserve our rights while providing the stability to grow stronger and wealthier as a nation.
On this Thanksgiving, I give thanks for being fortunate enough to live in the United States of America; free from hunger, sheltered and safe. I give thanks to the Founders and Framers who understood the opportunity freedom from British rule presented. I give thanks for teachers who understand the difference between education and indoctrination and who do not treat people differently based on color, class, or religion. I give thanks for the consistency of family, for the unknown which lies ahead, and for the simple fact of being alive on November 24, 2012.
And to all those reading this commentary, have a blessed Thanksgiving.