I'm proud to have reached the rank of
Sergeant in the U.S.M.C. I joined in 1979 to
see the world but instead saw four years of Camp Pendleton, California. Since that time, the Department of Veterans
Affairs has looked out for my health and my education.
And I now am proud to serve my patients as I travel the country as a
registered nurse. I owe much of my success as
a nurse to the training and discipline I received first in boot camp in Paris Island, then
as a legal services specialist while stationed Camp Pendleton.
That is why I am always interested in news
developments about the military in general and about Marines in particular. In a stunning poll conducted by Bill O'Reilly,
Fox News Analyst, regarding whether or not to prosecute the Marine Lance Corporal that
shot an unarmed insurgent in Iraq, 98% voted AGAINST prosecuting the Marine.
Here at home, Republicans and Democrats,
Christians and non Christians, men and women are banning together to stick up for
front-line Marines protecting our way of life and helping to spread democracy throughout
I have briefly lived in Mexico and
recently vacationed in the British Isles. And
as most Americans who have ever experienced life in other countries know, there is no
greater country than the United States of America!
First, we enjoy the most modern
conveniences of any country: Cell phones,
faxes, personal computers, great automobiles and well maintained roads, and clean public
restroom facilities that are free of charge. The
list is almost infinite. What does it say
about America that one of our most prominent societal problems is obesity? It says we enjoy an abundance of great food.
Many non-Americans, and unfortunately
some Americans, view our culture as selfish, elitist, arrogant, and downright evil. I wondered, while sitting on the British bus as I
toured the United Kingdom, why there appeared to be so much anti-American sentiment across
the world? Why, for example, did I see
graffiti in Ireland that said F Bush? Why
did my British tour guide have such harsh words about our American private health system? Why do some American celebrities appear to have
such disdain for the country that gave them the opportunity to reach a type of success
that they most likely would have never enjoyed in any other country? Why does it appear that some of the mainstream
media in our own country and abroad, refer to the U.S. as being the most self-serving,
elitist, egocentric country in the world?
The reality for those people is that the
United States is the most generous country in the world.
Our citizens' tax dollars contribute more aid to third-world countries
than all other nations in the world COMBINED! As
a government, through private organizations, and even through corporate America, the
people of our country are the first to deliver aid to countries in crisis.
The U.S.A is comprised of the most
compassionate, freedom-loving, justice-seeking individuals on earth. Some fringe dwellers wrongly argue that it is our
own fault that the twin towers were attacked; that Americans ignore the needs of many;
that the U.S. should be tolerant and understand what the enemy is trying to tell us. I think the message from the enemy is very clear: stop loving freedom -- or die.
So as I see it, in order to change the
hearts and minds of those that question American motives on the war on terror, we must
bring freedom and democracy to places that have never experienced it. I believe that once they get a taste of freedom,
like us, they will become captivated by the enormous human potential of individuals bound
by a common love and respect for self and others; a human potential that is stifled by
evil people but that must be reclaimed as the God-given gift it is. This is not a war about oil or money or power as
some would have us believe. It's a war
about good and evil. We are the good; and
those who wish to kill us for being free are evil.
During my long-awaited overseas travels,
I wondered to myself: what if we could
channel all the positive energy I saw from every country I visited into one super-country? What if it would be possible to create a country
that is composed of humans with one common goal? What
if that common goal was freedom?
That country already exists. It's
the land of the free and the home of the brave.
The free and the brave.
Five centuries ago Christopher Columbus
discovered America. It had to have taken a
great deal of guts and gonads to go against the flat-world thinking of that time to keep
sailing into the horizon until either hitting land or falling off the end of the world. And since that time, America has represented an
ideology of freedom, excitement, and glory to those who seek to make this their home. The pilgrims came here to escape religious
tyranny. The founding fathers devised a
brilliant government with checks and balances that to this day is superior to any in the
world. Only the strongest and most
persevering made it across the oceans from Europe, Africa, and Asia. South of the U.S. Border is Mexico, land of my
ancestors. In the 50's my father and
others came across the Rio Grande to the U.S. to work hard, send money back home, and make
this their new home for their offspring. Thus,
I know there is a large sector of modern America that is composed of brown people that
dared to take risks to make a better life for themselves and their offspring.
I've always been proud to be an
American, but never more so than when I went overseas.
I was able to see America for a split moment from the outside looking in. At first I was uncomfortable hearing and seeing
cheap shots taken at my country and at my president.
But then it dawned on me that perhaps these negative feelings are fueled by
a lack of understanding about our culture. And
often it's the loud mouths that get the attention.
It's become sort of a sport to insult Americans. But a need to insult tells more about the person
doing the insulting than it does about the one being insulted.
Just like our country was founded by the
most courageous of peoples from all over the world, the U.S.M.C. is comprised of the
leanest meanest fighting machines of our time. It
wasn't for nothin' that the tough German soldiers of World War I nicknamed the
Marines Devil Dogs.
It took centuries for our country to
become one nation under God with liberty and justice for all. And because of the type of people that settled
into our country our U.S.A. has evolved on many levels sometimes ahead of our time. But because of our success people from around the
world will either wish us well and jump on our bandwagon; or stand by idly only to
criticize; or worse to try to harm us.
There is always room for improvement in
any setting in our personal lives, in our communities, in our nation's
policies, in world affairs.
But during this holiday season, as a
Marine Vet myself, I wish to thank the United States Marine Corps for serving two
important missions: protecting our way of
life at home and bringing a taste of our freedom to countries that have suffered the
cruelest of oppression for centuries!
Please know that the vast majority of
Americans support our troops. Please come
home safely knowing that by volunteering to serve you did the most honorable, selfless,
heroic act to preserve our way of life for our children, our grandchildren, and to come to
the rescue of parts of the world that I believe in time will come to fully appreciate your
Lillian Gonzalez, BSN, RN
United States Marine Corps Veteran