Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Courage Defined

Our great state of Oregon will be holding it's primary in just a few short weeks. Because of this, we are being inundated with political rhetoric on every side. I am receiving phone messages from people I've never heard of asking for my vote. This gives me another reason to be glad that we do not have broadcast television in our home, as I'm sure this is probably where the battle for the vote is shown the greatest. Political commercials are very grating to me, and most the time seem full of half-truths (on both sides of the field).
However, last week I realized I could not completely avoid the onslaught. As I listened to a favorite afternoon radio program, the commercial break brought on another attempt to sway voters.

A particular candidate was being promoted as " courageous" because of their stand against the war in Iraq, and presumably because they had felt this way all along. Courageous.

This set my blood to simmering as I felt this was a very poor choice of words, especially considering our soldiers who are at this very moment endangering their lives in the country of Iraq.

My first impulse was to spill out a post railing against the fact that this candidate had no idea of the meaning of the word courage....and more along those same lines. But knowing that words spoken in anger often are not the most eloquent, as well as the fact that they often only anger others who feel differently, I decided to ponder the matter for a while.

So instead, I give you my personal definition of the word Courage.

When I think of courage, as concerns our great country, the list of people is overwhelming. I have a great love of American History with it's sometimes larger than life characters.

I think of Thomas Jefferson who penned the declaration of Independence, and the 55 delegates who signed it. They knew, no doubt, the anger they would unleash with that document. That great sacrifice would be required if the ideals it contained were to be realized.

I think of George Washington crossing the Delaware in the bitter cold of Winter. By his side were many soldiers whose bloodied feet were wrapped with cloth for lack of shoes. Many of these men's (just average hardworking farmers) enlistment period was over, but they believed in a cause, and pushed through what would be considered insurmountable odds.

I think of the brave men and women who fought in World War II. We have many of these veterans who attend our church, and their stories are amazing and inspiring. Just ordinary men who showed extraordinary courage. Have you ever imagined what life would have been like had they not stopped a monster named Adolph Hitler in his tracks?

I think of another war that was unpopular in it's time, Vietnam. I have several relatives who fought in this war. Many of the veterans of this war were treated with disrespect when they returned. They themselves may not have agreed with the war, but when their country sent them to fight, they put themselves on the line, just as their ancestors before them. They didn't dodge their responsibility.

When I think of the many times throughout our history when soldiers have given their lives merely to assure during battle that our countries flag did not fall to the ground...tears fill my eyes. I don't say that lightly. These soldiers understood the symbolism of what that flag stood for. They had nothing to gain through their acts of courage, no knowledge that (in the case of this picture of Iwo Jima) they would be immortalized. They simply put their lives on the line for something that merited a true act of courage. I suppose those who feel no need to show our Countries flag respect would not be moved to tears by this image. Shame on them. That very freedom, to even show disrespect, was earned by the life's blood of others.

When I think of the nameless multitude of men and women that have given their lives to assure that the likes of Hitler, Mussolini, Saddam Hussein, and Osama Bin Laden would never take our shores, or succeed in their desire to crush our democracy, I am humbled.

Of course, you don't have to be in the History books to be considered courageous. But when you are attempting to sit in the seat of the highest office in America, I do expect you to have a good understanding of the word Courage. And not to bandy it about to suit a political agenda. Maybe as a voter, this impresses you. If so, that's your choice. You have the same rights as any other American to vote as you so choose.

Many truly courageous men and women have sacrificed their lives to make it so.

As for me, I will not be holding up this candidate to my sons as an example of courage. I have a long lineage of courageous men and women to hold up to them, people who had nothing to gain by their acts of courage...nothing but securing the freedom of those who would come after them.

When the present candidates are long gone, these will still be remembered.


Nikki said...

Very good. I'm glad that you have undertaken to write these political posts because you do it much better than I could. Thank you!

Nikki said...

Oh, and yes, 16 boxes of books. That's why I need a library! Oh, I cannot wait to get those new bookshelves and unpack all of my lovely, battered, well-read books!

Mrs Nespy said...

Thank you for recognizing people who are real heroes. I get tired of people being exhalted because they are successful businessmen or talented athletes or yes...political figures. They may in fact be courageous and they are no doubt talented, but being a wide receiver for a pro football team does not constitute immediate admiration in my eyes.

Hooray for the men and women in uniform who are fighting for people who can't fight for themselves. It doesn't matter what you think of the politics surrounding the war, those people are brave to leave their families (many of them multiple times) to help people they have never or may never actually meet. Those are heroes. God bless our men and women in uniform.

Kristy said...

Well said! Our country could use a little more show of pride for true patriotism and courage where it is most deserved... on the battlefield, in our churches, and even our homes.

~Kristy @ Homemaker's Cottage