July 5 2020 By Norris Burkes
READERS: My wife, Becky, believes that it’s not enough to have only a single day in July to celebrate Independence Day.
She has said for years that we should set aside the entire month of July to celebrate and display our patriotic pride. “Let’s call it ‘Freedom Month,’” she suggests.
I agree. And that’s why today’s column will be the first of four that I’ll write this month to honor the freedoms we all enjoy.
Serving Your Country to Maintain Freedom
In the summer of 1994, I received paperwork ordering me from civilian comforts into active duty as an Air Force Chaplain.
At my swearing in, I promised to “faithfully discharge the duties of the office upon which I am about to enter. So help me God.”
In other words, I pledged to follow orders and do my duty – which I easily did.
That is, until I was given an order in the hours following the horrifying events of 9/11. The base commander at Patrick Air Force Base ordered all non-essential personnel to return home.
“No! No way!” I thought. “Put me on a plane. Let’s go get the bad guys!”
Not only was I being labeled as unnecessary, but I felt like I was being told to retreat, run and hide. For a military officer, it seemed like defeat.
I reluctantly obeyed the order.
Later, I would realize that my superiors were more informed than I of the military strategy that would disperse personnel so they wouldn’t become easy targets.
Following orders is obviously an integral part of military life because carrying out those orders becomes the way we serve our country.
I once visited a military office where the commanding officer was fond of intimidating his trembling, freshly-minted officer, “Lieutenant! What have you done for God and country today?”
This July 4th, I’m asking you to serve by doing something for God and country.
No, you aren’t too old, and I promise there are no health exams for this service.
Ensuring our nation’s freedom won’t require you to deploy to a combat zone as I did in Iraq. You won’t need the weeks of training I had in humid Montgomery, Ala., or blisteringly hot San Antonio, Texas.
Better yet, your nation won’t ask that you spend five years in a prisoner-of-war camp as did John McCain. This task will require some sacrifice, but it’ll be nonexistent compared to those who returned without their limbs.
“Alright already,” you say. “What can I do for God and country today?”
The answer is easy. Stay at home when you can. Wear a mask where you asked. Keep a respectable social distance and wash your hands.
It’s easy. No real sacrifice.
That’s all your country is asking from you. No more.
Now you may not believe in a mask, or you may think the whole thing is a part of a “planned-demic” hoax. But if you want to serve your country, you do what your country is asking you to do.
For instance, I didn’t question my deployments because those above my paygrade were better informed. Thousands of other brave men and women served alongside me, also without question.
On 9/11, first responders didn’t stand around debating the structural stability of the Twin Towers. They served their country by following the orders to run up the stairs in a sacrificial effort to save trapped victims.
I’m not suggesting that we can’t question our government leaders. You can and you should. Debate is the heart of democracy.
But while you’re debating and conferring – indeed, no one knows everything – can we simply wear a mask while keeping our distance?
I love my country. I served my country. I know you want to do the same. Wear a mask.