MIKE MASTERSON: Why we’re free

Posted: November 7, 2017 at 4:30 a.m.

Between living in a household commanded by an World War II/Korea-hardened Army lieutenant colonel until I was 19 and my 1960s stint in the Coast Guard, the die for my lifelong respect for our military was cast early on.

Add to the mix several uncles who also served and fought in the Great War and a daughter who recently retired as a Navy chief, and you wind up with a person who stands, faces the flag and lays his right hand over his heart when our national anthem is played.

It stuns me to see many Americans fortunate enough to be born into the most prosperous, free and advanced nation on earth denigrating, rather than praising, her unique advantages. Such irreverence also disparages the millions of young men and women who willingly sacrificed their bodies and lives over our history to enable even the ungrateful among us to childishly whine about inevitable imperfections any republic of 320 million people will have.

They protest their "annoyance du jour" without ever having put their own lives in harm's way as a necessary commitment to ensure others to follow will enjoy the incredible ideals and benefits they fail to appreciate.

Too often this unjustified complaining is cowardly and self-absorbed. And for 25 percent of millennial voters to support avowed democratic socialist Bernie Sanders in the last election cycle is shocking. That they would prefer the proven tyranny of socialism to their freedoms is beyond the pale.

They clearly fail to understand the brutal oppression of this ideology they ignorantly embrace, apparently believing a free loaf of bread and menial government subsistence is preferable to rising to their highest possible potential in this bountiful nation of free choices.

I scratch my head over what their manufactured protests (always arranged and announced for media consumption) are supposed to be advocating. To demand higher taxes? The perpetuation of our good-ol'-boy government rather than draining the dishonest swamp that has left their generation trillions in debt? Perhaps a weaker defense against evil? A stagnant economy with limited opportunities? An inadequate health-care system doomed to fail from its inception? Eliminating free speech and competing ideas?

All I can see is emotional hissy-fitting over Donald Trump winning the presidency. "We're resisting Trump personally and give us more free stuff." Is that all they've got?

Sorry, I digressed in a hissy fit of my own. Today's larger message is about the citizens of these United States who chose honor, integrity and service to this nation above selfish personal wants and petulant whining.

I'm speaking of our veterans and the nearly 3 million American dead and wounded in the various wars we have fought to protect and preserve our country's shining ideals, including some 1.2 million killed in wartime.

These millions of dead or injured selfless warriors are why we remain a country.

This writer, who decades later still can hear distant refrains of John Philip Sousa's "Washington Post" and the "Colonel Bogey" (Bridge on the River Kwai) marches wafting across military parade fields from Okinawa to Fort Chaffee, remains grateful and proud to be an American.

Yeah, smile, you know the rest: "Where at least I know I'm free."

Free, thanks not to the weak or fearful among us, but solely to those who comprise our military that has kept us that way and all its veterans we will celebrate this coming Saturday, even though we still fail to show them nearly enough gratitude for all they have unselfishly provided us.

A viewer's protest

Social media has been abuzz with an effort encouraging those who appreciate and respect our military services and their sacrifices to tune out all NFL games the weekend of Veterans Day.

That means on television and in person.

The movement was triggered, as we all know, by the refusal of numerous pro football players on various teams to stand in honor of the national anthem played before games. They are protesting the injustices they say exist in the justice system of our nation and perhaps something else of which I'm unaware.

They are free to do so if they mistakenly believe their public tantrum does anything but anger many Americans of every race and creed. In light of the exorbitant compensation these players earn and the wealthy lifestyle that affords, I can't see these pampered athletes as victims of oppression. So they have an apparent credibility problem when it come to needlessly biting the free-enterprise hand that feeds them so well, don't they?

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell oddly supports such political theater on company (and viewers') time while the team owners pay the increasingly heavy price.

We shall see this weekend if this widespread call to change channels and avoid the stadiums in respect for our men and women in uniform has had a meaningful effect.

I haven't watched any NFL game since this arrogant, disrespectful, self-indulgent and potentially bankrupting time bomb began ticking.

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Mike Masterson is a longtime Arkansas journalist. Email him at mmasterson@arkansasonline.com.

Editorial on 11/07/2017