Happy 230th Birthday, America!

I can think of no other place I would rather be than with my bride and our two sons kicking back on the family ranch. My Dad and I will take the boys out to check out the cows and horses. We will then spend some time in the swimming pool and then start the fire for the barbeque. After numerous glasses of wine, the meat will be ready and we will all chow down. When it gets dark we will break out the fireworks and watch the boys have a blast (literally). Anyway, that is what my family will do. I, on the other hand, am fighting a counterinsurgency in Afghanistan and contending with fireworks that are designed to kill you.

I am taking a break from work to write this post. I spent all day tidying up the details for a mission I will be running soon and am just now finishing up (my day started at 7:00 AM and it is now 10:30 PM). The work never stops when you are here. There are ups and downs to the operational tempo but the tempo never ceases. Because I am filling a unique niche in the staff here, I have my feet in both the battlegroup and brigade headquarters. I am taking on more brigade duties because the problems that the battlegroup were having are sorting themselves out, freeing me up to do some really interesting “spooky secret squirrel” stuff.

Today my coalition brethren were all wishing me a Happy Independence Day which is poignant in a way because they all know I am originally from Canada. Through the course of the day I got to thinking about what makes the United States of America a truly unique country. Working with my coalition brethren brings a few points home. We as a nation are dedicated to an idea. The idea that “all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness”. We aren’t bound as a country through race, religion, or monarchy. We have this “git er done” attitude that is lacking in some coalition partners. We are generous to a fault and we expect next to nothing in return for our largess.

For those of my fellow citizens who feel comfortable jumping on the “screw America” bandwagon pulled by eurotrash know it alls, check out the article by Peter Brooks. Brooks paints a pretty grim picture of what life on this planet would be like without the USA. The second half of the article he details all the money we spend just on humanitarian assistance and yet we still get a lot of grief from the rest of the world. The shocking thing about the article is that he doesn’t detail what Americans give through PRIVATE charities!

I like this quote from British columnist Tim Montgomerie:

It's easy to think of reasons to hate America - we're fed them on a daily basis by our friends at the BBC - but the 4th July is a day to celebrate our transatlantic friends. When we even have Tories idiotically suggesting that we should be as worried about the President of Iran as the President of America it's time to remember why some of us love America...

There are few other countries that could be trusted with so much power. America is a democratic country committed to the extension of freedom throughout the world. In his second inaugural address George W Bush said that "The survival of liberty in our land increasingly depends on the success of liberty in other lands. The best hope for peace in our world is the expansion of freedom in all the world." Does America always live up to this self-interested ideal? No. It sometimes acts incompetently and sometimes hamfistedly but rarely in a malign way. We are fortunate not to live in a world where China or Russia are the superpowers - using their power for ill. Or a world where Chirac or Schroeder are the commanders-in-chief - appeasing the world's despots in return for commercial gains.

I can’t fathom what the world would be like without the USA. I thank God every day I am an American citizen. Today and everyday, I and my fellow soldiers show the world what the USA is all about. I wish I was with my family right now but I am proud to be abroad representing my adopted country.

Right now they are shooting illumination rounds to celebrate the 4th. Not as flashy as the fireworks at the capitol but pretty cool. I have to get back to work so….

Happy 230th Birthday, America!

CPT NightHawk


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