July 04, 2004

INDEPENDENCE

I wanted to write something really special for the Fourth of July. I read through lots of my old posts, through old emails home, through papers I wrote when I took that year of ROTC, searching for inspiration. But I just didn’t have anything else to add. I realized that when you live every day as an American – when you are proud of your country and wear your service flag and regimental crest pins every single day – then you don’t need to step it up a notch for 24 hours in July. Independence Day to a diehard patriot is like Valentine’s Day for newlyweds: it’s simply a day where the rest of society notices what you cherish daily.

When I took the Military Science class, the first year of ROTC, we were required to write an autobiography. Most of the students in the class were in their third week of college; I was a senior with a strong background in writing. I had a bit more experience to draw from than the rest of the class. The teacher, our beloved Captain R, told me mine was the best ROTC autobiography he'd ever seen and that he was passing it out to every Soldier he knew. I didn't think it was anything amazing; it was just the truth. I read it again yesterday, and I still feel the same way (though I must resist the urge to revise). Excerpt:

I am one of the oldest students in the MS 100 class, since I find myself rapidly approaching the ripe old age of twenty-two. As a senior in the class, I have been surrounded by people who are just beginning the scholarly journey I started long ago.

The most important part of this journey for me was last year, when I was a student in a French university. I spent an entire year on study abroad, which accounts for my tardy enrollment in Military Science as a senior. This was a pivotal moment in my scholarly life as a French major, because my outlook on the future has been radically changed by this time I spent away from my homeland. I found that France was nice, but it was not home. I felt aimless and rootless. I had a difficult time placing myself in a society into which I did not easily fit. I found myself standing up for my own country and facing people who were hostile to that for which my country stands. I found myself shying from the French thought and becoming more American than I ever imagined I would be.

I had always been a patriotic person. My favorite holiday is Independence Day, and I won the Daughters of the American Revolution award in high school. But once faced with people who did not respect the basic tenets of the country which I held so dear, I found within a great longing for my motherland. I returned from this year in France with a confused sense of what it is I want to become as a French major and a heightened sense of who I am as an American.

And then I began MS 100. Originally, I had just thought that it would be a better option than Health and Wellness. I would learn something to which I had never before been exposed: how the military is arranged and how it runs. I soon found that I enjoyed the class more than I had previously foreseen. On the first day of lab, even without a uniform, I envisioned myself part of something larger than I could fathom. As the cannons blasted and words were read, words of unity, justice, and freedom, I felt so proud. I felt very proud of my country, very proud to call myself an American, and proud to have called myself an américaine in France.

I never imagined that standing there in the group with me on the first day of lab was a young man who would one day be the most important person in my life. I signed up for MS 100 because of the paintball and rappelling; I'm happy to have stayed because of the values the military represents. The closing paragraph of my autobiography is ironic, considering the turn my life took when I met that young man in ROTC.

I had an argument with a foreigner the other day. He comes from a country where military service is mandatory and therefore seen as a burden and a hindrance to young men. Therefore, our opinions on the ROTC program clashed fiercely. What I said, on behalf of my experiences, was that the ROTC is a wonderful program, one that can provide students with a taste for the military, however diluted this taste may be. And through this experience of MS 100, a scholar can decide if he has been called to become a part of this greater collectivity of brave men who devote their lives to the country I cherish so much. I am proud to associate myself with these ideals, even if only for one year.

I believe these things every day of my life; I don't need to act any different today. I'll fly my flag, wear my pins, and be grateful that brave Americans today and yesterday have fought and died for what I cherish. Just like I try to do every other day.

Posted by: Sarah at 04:02 AM | Comments (7) | Add Comment
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1 That was the perfect post for today. Happy 4th of July Sarah! IMHO - This country is great because of people like you.

Posted by: Tammi at July 04, 2004 08:22 AM (VsBSK)

2 Sarah, Happy Independence day to you, and all the others not able to be here today. I think this year my focus is going to be on dissent, not dissent for the sake of being disagreeable mind you, but educated dissent. The freedoms we have today are because the founders dissented with the prevailing thought of the day. The prevailing thought in the mid-1700's was "the king has dominion over this land". By 1776 that thought had been somewhat altered, and thus began our nation. Being as this nation was founded by dissenters, we have a right, no strike that, we have an obligation to give "informed" dissent to the prevailing thoughts of our day. If I say I think Iraq is wrong it is not because I am being treasonous, as Coulter is wont to express. I dissent because I do study the issues, and I think there are better methods of "brute force" we have at our disposal. I thought Wolfowitz and his crew were insane in 1996 when I first read about the "Project for a new American century", I still think that whole crowd is certifiable. So I offer whatever informed dissent I can. This is why I read these blogs and bother to comment, so for this 4th of July I am reading as usual. I am re-reading Molly Ivins "Shrub" just to see how right she was 5 years ago.

Posted by: Bubba Bo Bob Brain at July 04, 2004 01:07 PM (4pVZJ)

3 Amen, Sarah.

Posted by: Mike at July 04, 2004 01:55 PM (PaVgz)

4 Bubba Bo...but are you *really* dissenting from "the prevailing thoughts of the day"? Seems to me that you stand with the major media, and with the opinions that they are using their tremendous economic power to propagate. You stand with the Hollywood celebrities, and with those that control America's universities. Yours is far from a lonely stand.

Posted by: David Foster at July 04, 2004 07:23 PM (XUtCY)

5 Well I would be standing with those particular bozos if I, like them, was a chickenhawk-chickenshit. I did my six years, was lucky as all hell I did them entirely during "peace", 4 May '77- 23 Apr '83. I have an frigging idea of whence I speak which is why I don't think of those yutzes, when I make my remarks. Ahhh yes, here we go with the old "liberal media" dig, I sure have not seen all that much liberalism in my papers since the goddamned 60's, starting in the 70's with the single exception of Watergate the media in this nation have been asleep at the wheel, Iran-Contra was waaaaaaayyyyyyy worse than Watergate yet was given nearly a free pass by this so called liberal media. Since the advent of consolidation in the media, begining 20 years ago, they have not been all that liberal.

Posted by: Bubba Bo Bob Brain at July 05, 2004 12:23 AM (4pVZJ)

6 Bubba, coincidentally Instapundit links to a study on this very topic today.

Posted by: Sarah at July 05, 2004 02:34 AM (TcRJG)

Posted by: cjstevens at July 05, 2004 02:36 AM (lz3SM)

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