Red Americans are blue and depressed about the results of the recent election. Blue Americans are red beaming with delight for the outcome. But my fellow Americans, there is only one color that defines Veterans Day, purple. It is the mix of the reds and blues on the battlefields and in the situation rooms serving a cause greater than any one American, jointly protecting the United States of America. We need to take pause for a moment to offer appreciation to our veterans and to reflect on how we as a nation and as neighbors can heal our deep and painful wounds. As the eldest of 10 children in a family that is red, blue, green and even fuchsia, I fondly recall our Dad's mantra, "United you stand, divided you fall." We can fight, take flight or unite.
Brave fallen Navy SEAL commandos Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty and information officer Sean Smith did not ask what color their fellow Americans were during the deadly terrorist attack in Benghazi on September 11. They could have taken flight instead they united and fought to save American lives, sacrificing their own. They did what was right and jumped in the dangerous fray to keep others from harm's way. "Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one's life for one's friends (John 15:13)." This Gospel lesson hopefully will bring some comfort to the families of these heroes who deserve our nation's Purple Heart gratitude. Our thoughts and prayers go out to all who grieve including to the family of Ambassador Stevens. We are deeply grateful to those who serve in our armed forces and in our diplomatic endeavors.
Our Dad served in the army during the Korean War. I remember how excited our family was when he was invited to attend the January 20, 1961 Inauguration Ceremony of President John F. Kennedy. We were young kids watching this historic event on TV hoping to see our Dad. Instead we were mesmerized and inspired by the words of our newly elected "blue" leader who strove to unite Americans with his "red, white and blue" message. It is timely to recall his most famous inspirational directive, "Ask not what your country can do for you- ask what you can do for your country." This dramatic call to action is what best describes our veterans but it is also an urgent call for all Americans today. Too many Americans of recent generations have the mentality, "what's in it for me?" With I-phones, I-pads, I-net, my space, "it's all about me, myself and I."
President Kennedy's words remind us it's about America and the duty we have to protect our constitution and promote our values. He served as Commander and Chief of our nation after being a brave veteran himself as described in "Profiles in Courage" with his PT-109 life-saving efforts. And in the end President Kennedy gave his life in the line of duty, assassinated on November 22, 1963. Our selfless veterans have served from Berlin to Baghdad to Benghazi, wherever and whenever they are needed, so we can be free. Free to practice our religions, free to carry our protection, free to say what is on our minds and in our hearts and free to elect our government.
I submit that every American of all colors and party persuasion should read the entire Inaugural Address of President Kennedy and consider the ramifications of what he said and how it is relevant to America and the world today. Some thought-provoking JFK highlights:
"We observe today not a victory of a party, but a celebration of freedom." President Kennedy continues, "The world is very different now. For man holds in his mortal hands the power to abolish all forms of poverty and all forms of humanlife. And yet the same revolutionary beliefs for which our forebears fought are still at issue around the globe-the belief that the rights of man come not from the generosity of the state, but from the hand of God."
"Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty."
The young President proclaimed to a divided America, "United, there is little we cannot do in a host of cooperative ventures. Divided, there is little we can do-for we dare not meet a powerful challenge at odds and split asunder."
Outwardly asserting, "To those nations that would make themselves our adversary, we offer not a pledge but a request: that both sides begin anew the quest for peace, before the dark powers of destruction unleashed by science engulf all humanity in planned or accidental self-destruction."
The charismatic newly elected U.S. President concluded by humbly invoking prayer, "Fellow American citizens, with a good conscience our only sure reward...let us go forth to lead the land we love, asking His blessing and His help, but knowing that here on earth God's work must truly be our own."
We would be remiss when celebrating the annals of heroic veterans not to mention our beloved POWS as represented by Arizona Senator John Mc Cain. Five years ago I was privileged to join the historic trade mission to Vietnam with then Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez. Our delegation of U.S. business leaders from various fields stayed together at the Hanoi Hilton and met commerce and government counterparts. It was a bittersweet trip for us who held memories for the loss of American soldiers during the years of war with this now emerging market for trade and tourism. It helped the healing process to visit the country and meet the people. Interesting to note, most of the American government staff we met there are married to Vietnamese with whom they have children, making peace through love and commerce a reality.
President Ronald Reagan, proponent of "peace through strength" kept a leather stand prominently displayed on his desk in the Oval Office stating, "It Can Be Done." It is a philosophy which we pioneer entrepreneurial Americans wholeheartedly embrace, so long as we circle the wagons, stick together and watch each other's back. And in the words of our family ancestor General Israel Putnam, "Don't fire until you see the whites of their eyes" to be practical and preserve ammunition. This revolutionary veteran co-founded the Sons of Liberty to ensure "no taxation without representation" and he fought at the Battle of Bunker Hill protecting the last American standing in his battalion earning the respect of his soldiers for leading with courage under fire. "Old Put" wore a blue uniform with red trim and fought for all Americans to work together and proudly wave our flag of unity representing all our colors. Red, white and blue with purple hearts for exemplary service.
The American tenet all U.S. presidents and members of Congress whether red or blue agree is necessary is to humbly call upon help from above since all concur that America survives and thrives because, "In God We Trust." Mr. President, joint prayer may be a good place to start the unity dialogue followed by our U.S. Color Guard.