Recently I had a conversation with a young lady visiting from California; it was during the George Geer Memorial Car Show weekend.
The last time I visited with this young lady was about five years ago. We talked about her education plans and her plans for the future. During our little visit she asked about the car show and who was George Geer and what are the Blue Star Mothers. So I explained who George was and how he had lost his life in Iraq and that his mother had received a Gold Star after George had been killed in the service of his country. I explained the purpose of the Blue Star Mothers and what an important role they play to the mothers of daughters and sons in the military.
She does not personally know anyone that has lost a family member during the recent armed conflicts. At 20 years of age I was surprised she has no grasp of what is really going on. You would think a decade of war would have some affect on our younger generation. I got the impression, if it does not involve her little world it seems unimportant to her. I also asked if need be would she serve in the military, she was having none of that. It was not in her best interest as her plans include making big money and traveling the world.
Here is an interesting observation, children that have parents in the military are more likely to join the military. Case in point. I just talked with two young men who are enrolled in Reserve Officer Training Course (ROTC) in there high school and plan on joining the Army when they graduate. The hard part was trying to convince them that to continue there education through college and then join as officers would be more to there advantage. These two young men both have parents in the Army and one of there mother’s is currently in Afghanistan.
Our education system teaches very little about American History and what it took and what it takes to maintain what we as Americans relish most. It is not about making big money, traveling the world or living in a luxury home. It is about freedom that makes all those things possible. It has always been about freedom. The first step toward such a result was taken with the Declaration of Independence in 1776 which was then followed by The Constitution drafted in Philadelphia in 1787. The Bill of Rights was added in 1791. The freedoms flowing from this Constitution created those opportunities. Since those earliest days, discouraged and oppressed people from every land have made there way to this country.
Those discouraged and oppressed people that made it to our shores and gained citizenship must study very hard, and pay to gain the right to become naturalized citizens. I can tell you that they know more about The Constitution and heritage of this country than the general populous and surely more than any of our children. Let us remember that The Constitution and Bill of Rights is color blind and the First Amendment not only gives us the freedom of speech but starts by stating that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;” and no where can the word bigot or bigotry be found.
The Constitution gives our lives meaning, we should all, young and old appreciate and understand our American heritage. It is the responsibility of every parent to teach our children the importance of, life, liberty, pursuit of happiness and respect for our flag. Raising the American Flag for some is a sign of nationalism, a turn to socialism, to give up your freedoms to the government. Not so, the American Flag has changed many times over its life time. From the beginning it has stood as a symbol that represents what this land and its people stand for. A way of life that many countries envy and many enemies that would like to destroy.
What does the future hold for America? I believe our education system is failing our children and the most important things are being missed, not every child can be an athletic star! What ever happened to reading, writing and arithmetic as a priority for learning? What has happened to our mentors? What has happened to the patriotic obligation to our country?
Robert Valencia is a retired Army Sergeant First Class, member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Disabled American Veterans and the American Legion. He can be reached at 970-560-1891. Listen to Veterans Forum the last Friday of the month at 8:30am on KSJD Radio FM 90.5/91.5.