by Karron Combs
I grew up in the years of the cold war. When I was a child, we lived in Germany. We knew that we could be asked to leave all we had at any time to get on a bus or train to be moved away from danger. I never noticed how stressful it was for my parents, I only knew that when my father was “out in the field” for weeks at a time, my mother was worried about him. As an adult, and parent, I realized how fearful she must have been for his safety. Word never came that we had to leave, the suitcases would be unpacked, and my father would come home to a huge meal while we children would be ushered out while he slept. The enemy wasn’t visible, but they were out there and we had to be ready.
As we came back to America on a ship, there was a sudden hush over the ship as the Capitan announced that President John F. Kennedy was dead. The men rushed into uniform and the entire ship went on high alert. When we landed in New York a few days later, the streets were empty, flags were and half mast, businesses were closed, and a sadness blanketed the land. It was a profound moment to me, an eight year old kid, that the President of America could be killed right here in one of our own cities. All my life, the President was the Commander in Chief, my dad’s big boss. I thought he was untouchable. His enemy was able to kill him, and we were all on alert, but the enemy could not stop America and her people.
When I was a young teenager, the country went to war. I lived through the times of Viet Nam. My parents tried to keep us from seeing the horrific news footage that played on the television on the nightly news. People protested, people burned draft cards and ran away, but the men and women who served went with a hope of making a difference. The government would not commit themselves, but they did commit the young men who went into that jungle, never to come home again. We may not have seen a lot of the coverage on television, but we saw enough to know that the enemy was evil, determined, and vicious. The men and women who served in that war, were treated disgracefully by the citizens in their own country when the returned. They did their duty, stood firm in doing what was necessary instead of running away, but they were spit on by their own people. Many of them never got over the things they saw or the way they were treated at home. We lost a lot of good people, but we knew the enemy was still out there torturing those we were forced to abandon.
I was a busy mother and wife when we went to Iraq the first time. I had no less than five friends or family members in that war. I was so proud of them and their willingness to volunteer to serve in the military. Then my brother went to Somolia with the Marines. He came home, but we worried every day. Most came home, but some gave all. They weren’t any different than those who served in Viet Nam, but they returned heroes. I remember being in an airport when a unit came off a plane. Everyone, to the last person, stood and applauded. The terminal shook with the noise, and you could hear it follow them through out the entire building. The men in that unit formed up and marched through that airport, heads held high. I cried tears of pride and applauded until my hands hurt. When they got to the baggage claim, everyone crowded around to shake their hands while their families hugged and kissed the men they loved so much. It was a joyous moment.
I am older now, with grandchildren. I lived abroad during the embarrassing years of the Clinton presidency. We were constantly barraged with jokes and insults about being Americans and having a cheating man for a president. But he was still the Commander in Chief, and held the office of the president. I could loathe the man, but respect the office he held. Shortly after we were able to vote for a new president, we were targeted again. When our country was attacked and the twin towers fell in on September 11, we were living in Hong Kong. I was watching television and the first photos of the attack were on Fox News. I was so shocked and appalled that I sat on the edge of the sofa and watched the horror unfold for most of the day. When the time came to pick my child up from school, I walked into a world that was as hushed and shocked as New York was when President Kennedy was assassinated. Only this time, there were thousands who died, assassinated without reason by the enemy who hated us. Not because we did anything to them, but because of who we are, Americans. Many who died in that senseless act weren’t even Americans, but that didn’t matter to the enemy that tore apart the lives of so many. They were a vicious and mindless pack of animals, with no respect for human life. Even worse they hide it behind religion, a religion that is supposed to be based on decency. Suddenly, the enemy was right here at home, in our own back yard. What else could we do but go to war? Our men and women lined up to volunteer to serve us, and, in doing so, sacrifice their own lives in the name of freedom. The enemy was hounded in his own land, and in a matter of time, he was found hiding in a hole like an animal. The head of the snake was dead, but the body kept moving. We are still at war, and our men and women deserve our greatest respect. They serve because they love their country. They stand proudly between us and the enemy. Many have come home within a flag draped coffin. Their families stand weeping at their graveside while guns salute them and the flag is given to them in thanks for the service and sacrifice their son or daughter made for our freedom. They fulfilled their duty to protect the Constitution that is the foundation of our country, and their eyes turned to the flag that represents us. The enemy is still running, but we will catch them, and we will overcome them.
Today we have a new government. One that I don’t understand. One that does not represent me or any of the people who serve and protect us. The enemy is no longer “out there’ they are here, in our capitol, and they are trying their best to transform our country. The enemy within wants to destroy our Constitution, and our Bill of Rights. The enemy wants to take away all that we stand for and transform us into something resembling the enemy I grew up with in Germany. They want to force us into their idea of government, and take away our freedom just like the enemy in Viet Nam did to their people. They want to push us into serving only them, not our own country, with their rules, not the rules of the Founders of our country. Our land, our traditions, our language, our beliefs, our very hearts are their targets. The enemy within will take until there is nothing recognizable in our world. The man who is president of our country wants to change our country to his idea of what it should be, not what we have always believed it to be. Our traditions will become illegal, our values and instinctive morals will be torn asunder. We will no longer have our right to love our country as it is, imperfections and all. The enemy within is insidious and uses pretty words to paint a pretty picture, but like the Portrait of Dorian Grey, the evil, ugly, and hateful acts will be hidden away behind doors. Always, in my life, I have respected the office of the President of the United States, now I abhor it and the man who holds that title. He is the enemy within, and his army of minions will harm all that we stand for.
Remember the song by Lee Greenwood, God Bless The USA? Those of you who love your country, take a moment to listen to it again. Search your hearts, take the time to listen to your conscience and see if you are still a proud American. Will you proudly stand next to the men and women serving abroad, or will you spit on them like the soldiers who served in Viet Nam? Will you stand strong for the Constitution on which our country was founded, or will you try to fundamentally transform all that we stand for? Will you work to stop the enemy within, or will you give in and let them force their laws upon you? Will you fight for your rights, or take the easy road to slavery? Listen to the song, and make a decision which army you will join. The one fighting for their rights, or the one who wants to fundamentally change America into a population of sheep.