This I Believe

Susan - Bellevue, Washington
Entered on October 13, 2006

A Question of Patriotism

Recently I opened an email sent by an acquaintance showing a slideshow of our regular Military and National Guard in Iraq. With soft serene music playing in the background, each picture glided by showing our soldiers honorably and courageously at their military best. They were soldiers in group shots, holding babies, knelt next to children, one soldier playfully putting a hat on one boy’s head, one handing a ball to another child, one soldier petting a kitten, another a puppy, and there was even pictures of our leaders such as Condoleezza Rice wearing a helicopter helmet and giving a thumbs up. Of course, there was also a picture of our President and Mrs. Bush with their heads bowed in prayer. Captions also displayed. The caption “Support Our Troops” was displayed during most of the slides and the last frame showed “Remember Freedom is Not Free” with an American flag patriotically in the background.

Those slides reminded me how courageous our American soldiers are. Indeed, those who volunteer to lay down their lives to preserve the rights and freedoms of our country are heroes. However, I also found a contrast in the message of patriotism shown in these slides. To me the message projected is that in order to be patriotic you must support the troops AND the Iraq War. Knowing that our troops do not have the authority to declare war, more questions resonated in my head: Does this mean if some Americans do not support the Iraq war they are unsupportive or against our troops, unpatriotic or against god? Is the war in Iraq necessary in order to preserve our rights and freedoms because of the attacks on 9/11? Was there an alternative or no choice?

The conclusion I came to is that there are no black and white answers. However, as an American, I believe it’s patriotic to impose questions about the concerns we have about our government policies. To question is essential to obtain answers. We need to test the knowledge of those in authority in order to make informed decisions.

We have a RIGHT as Americans to form our own opinions from the information we gathered. We have a CHOICE to believe in the pro or the con of any policy. It is also our RIGHT to be able to question without being intimidated with a reprimand or a label and to be able to agree to disagree without harmful judgment from anyone. We need to question our government policies because to be complacent by surrendering our participation would only allow our RIGHTS to be eroded.

To question is not treason and not the right of the few. To question is for all and that includes YOU!