- - Sunday, July 6, 2014

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

This weekend, Americans located all over the country stepped out onto their patios, decks, and backyards to partake in a delicious barbecue with family, friends, and loved ones. A drink or two surely was spilled and, chances are, children fought over who got to eat the biggest burger.

By the time evening rolled round, families set up their chairs and picnic blankets as anticipation of the night’s display of fireworks began to grow. Once the first cracks were heard, all eyes were fixed into the night sky until the anchor is complete.

Throughout the day, you may have overheard talk of patriotism and what a sacrifice our veterans have made, but chances are, you were too stuffed with food to listen or were already taking an afternoon nap.

For most Americans, Independence Day is a lot like the beginning of a baseball game. A famous artist sings the National Anthem and everyone in the stadium stands and places their hand upon their heart. Some people sing along or at least mouth the words, but most put on a fake look of sincerity thinking, “I can’t wait till the song ends so the game can begin.”

Medically retired Marine Lance Cpl. Kyle Carpenter will be awarded the Medal of Honor by President Obama on June 19. (Associated Press)
Medically retired Marine Lance Cpl. Kyle Carpenter will be awarded the Medal ... more >

Americans are very good at looking and sounding patriotic, but it’s fake. We put on face paint and wear ridiculous costumes for the World Cup, but we fail to ponder the sacrifice made by past and present American military heroes.

We get more excited at the beginning of a sports game than when a soldier safely returns home to his wife and children, or when soldiers on a helicopter crash narrowly escape the jaws of death. We are more proud when the U.S. soccer team scores a goal than when American soldiers successfully bring freedom to millions of people across the Atlantic.

Disagree with the last few years of U.S. foreign policy all you want, but at the end of the day the individuals who put their lives on the line for our freedom deserve the utmost respect. We are quick to politicize American military operations, but slow to pray for our troops and support their dedication no matter what the circumstance.

The ongoing scandal at the Department of Veterans Affairs is disgraceful. The fact that thousands of veterans are not receiving care or have to wait 90 days or more to receive care is shameful. The political party you identify with doesn’t matter — all Americans should be outraged over the corruption and scandal and disrespect shown to those soldiers to whom we owe our lives.

Two years ago, Army Sgt. Brendan Marrocco successfully underwent double arm-transplant surgery. He lost both of his arms back in 2009 from a bomb in Iraq. Sgt. Marrocco’s ability to even squeeze and throw a tennis ball is a miracle. He deserves our thanks and praise.

In 2010, Lance Cpl. William “Kyle” Carpenter heroically saved a fellow soldier after the two came under heavy fire on a rooftop in Afghanistan. Lance Cpl. Carpenter dove on a live grenade losing his eye and sustaining serious injuries, but saving the life of his friend. This is what true love and courage look like.

Our troops demonstrate their willingness to lay down their lives for a friend each and every day they’re on the battlefield.

Think about the courage of the American soldiers who knowingly crawled up a French beach filled with bullets on June 6, 1944, to save a continent from tyranny. Or those outnumbered American soldiers in South Vietnam who fended off attack after attack from the enemy for over three days in the valley of Ia Drang.

One trip to the Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia will open your eyes to the costly sacrifices made to secure our freedom. Watching the tears fall from the eyes of one broken family is enough to break your heart.

In an interview after receiving the Medal of Honor, Lance Cpl. Carpenter said, “I receive it with a heavy heart. It’s a huge honor and I’m very appreciative and I’m very humbled by it, but at the same time there is — not just from Iraq and Afghanistan, but previous wars since this country was founded — there have been those who didn’t make it back and those who did make it back and had worse injuries than mine. Courageous things happen on the battlefield every day and all of us raise our right hand in the exact same way to serve our country.”

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