Since Veterans United For Freedom started I’ve had people ask my why I joined or what this group is about. As I’ve sat and pondered the question, I’ve realized I don’t have a short and easy answer. I could easily say that it’s because the group wants to protect freedom in our country, but that answer doesn’t explain how freedom is under attack. I could easily say I joined because I want to continue my oath to support and defend the Constitution, but that doesn’t explain how the Constitution is under attack.
Every combat veteran will tell you that combat changes you – that is a cold hard fact. But one of the changes that I never expected was how much more I appreciated the freedom and prosperity this country affords. Seeing a nation of poor, oppressed people really changes your perspective on things. There are times I think to myself that people really don’t understand just how good we have it here. But the reasons we have it so good, the reason we are so free, is because the Veterans of yesterday left us such a wonderful gift – the gift of freedom.
In 2010 I was fortunate to be present for Iraq’s second free election. But I watched in horror as people were literally killed for simply trying to go vote for their elected representative, for exercising their rights. After decades of oppression, the Iraqi people still weren’t truly free. It was then that I thanked God that those that I love dearly don’t have to worry about being attacked for exercising their right to vote, their right to free speech, their right to worship, or any of their Constitutional Rights.
Then 2016 came along. 2016 was a trying year for America. As bad as 2016 was, it can’t hold a candle to how bad 2020 has become. We have people being shouted down, shamed, and even attacked for having differing political beliefs. Somehow people have thought that it is not enough to simply disagree with other people, but rather they need to destroy those that think differently. It actually started in 2014 when the CEO of Mozilla was forced to resign from the company he started because he donated $1000 to a pro-proposition 8 group that almost 60% of the population supported. A man’s livelihood was taken from him because he supported a law passed by the majority of the people. He committed no crime and yet he was tried in the court of public opinion and forced to resign. 2016 amplified political activists attacking political rivals, and things have gotten worse as we come into 2020. 2020 has had riots in the streets and seen people beaten and even killed for their differing political beliefs. In Minnesota there have even been homes burned down because they dared have signs for the “wrong” political candidate. We have created an environment where people are afraid to say what they believe. We’ve created an environment where the extremists are the only ones allowed to express their views. That is not freedom. Our rights are not under attack from an oppressive government (though that certainly happens at the local, state, and federal levels) but instead is under attack from our neighbors. It’s under attack by those claiming to be anti-fascists but have become fascists themselves. It’s under attack by those claiming to want social justice but instead are trying to turn our country into a Marxist utopia by using violence as a means to their end. Sitting and watching the news in 2020 often makes me feel like I’m back in Iraq in 2010, only this time it IS my loved ones I worry about.
It shouldn’t matter who you support in a Presidential race, no matter if your candidate wins or loses, and no matter how happy or upset you are about the outcome, I want you to think about one thing: think about all of the sacrifices that have been made by our civil rights leaders, our greatest politicians, and most importantly our nation’s veterans that have given you this precious gift of freedom. Veterans didn’t fight and veterans didn’t die for people to tear each other down, attack each other, or commit acts of violence because of who someone did or didn’t vote for. We are a nation of liberty, liberty that has been earned through the blood, sweat, and tears of the best America has to offer. If we forget that, we’ve lost the very fabric that makes this country so great. Ronald Reagan once said “Freedom is a fragile thing and is never more than one generation away from extinction. It is not ours by inheritance; it must be fought for and defended constantly by each generation, for it comes only once to a people.” Those words have never rung more true than today as we watch a nation tear itself apart.
So when people ask me what Veterans United for Freedom is about and why I joined, my answer is because we’re losing our freedoms every day and I can no longer wait for our politicians to stop it. Hell, if we’re honest half our politicians are in on it. I joined Veterans United for Freedom to answer the call Ronald Reagan made decades ago – I’m here with this organization to make sure my children are as free as I was and instill in them the need to fight for it.