Our nation is tolerant.
To understand how tolerant our nation is one would have had to visit any other country. I have stepped foot on and had to live on every continent. I have been to countries where the slightest mis-movement of the hand can land you in jail. I have been to places where being gay was a capital offense. I have seen firsthand what freedom is by seeing what it is not. We are a tolerant nation.

I hear people scream about us going into Iraq, it was not our place to protect the world. Whose job is it? Who stands up to the bullies if we don’t? Who stands up for the little girls who were being raped by the sons of the leader of the country if we don’t? Who was to stand up for the villages that were being gassed because they disagreed with their leader? Whose job was it to stand up for the Christians that were being slaughtered because they believed in God?

We, as soldiers, never questioned our role in Iraq. We saw firsthand the savagery of a brutal dictator. We saw the girls that had been mutilated by the Iraqi soldiers. They cut off the young girl’s nipples and some even carved their initials in the girl’s chest just to mark and show what they had taken from them. We heard firsthand the stories of soldiers directed into towns with the sole purpose of raping women, children, and men in front of their families to instill the fear of a brutal dictator.

I have seen in the Philippines where families sell their young girls into prostitution. Where the poverty is so bad that people, families, whole communities live in cardboard and tin houses. I have seen towns whose sole water supply comes from open sewer rivers. These places are forgotten not only by their government but also by ours.

I hear the complaints from people about how bad we treat different political parties here in America. I hear from both the left and the right about the abuses of power from the other. Yet we still seem to have law and order. We still seem to have a country where one can be gay without being condemned to death. One can disagree with the ruling party and not fear being gassed and killed. We live in a country that regardless of skin color you have the same opportunities to grow and become whatever you want to be. We live in a country where our neighbor can be Hispanic, African, Asian, Middle Eastern, or any other nationality but we are all Americans.

We live in a country of spoiled brats. We have people constantly complaining about how hard their life is. They complain that their neighbors have more than them. They complain because there are things they cannot afford but other people can. Why do they get to drive a new Suburban and I have to drive a minivan? People complain that they are discriminated against because of their credit. But it is their credit, they made the choices that got them into that situation.

We live in a tolerant nation, not a flawless nation. We live in a country where personal responsibility is a bad combination of words. We live in a country where people want everyone to conform to their way of thinking and if you don’t you are a bigot or a racists. We live in a country where people think that theirs is the only religion that has a beautiful afterlife. We live in a country although tolerant has flaws.

However, we live in the greatest country in the world. We live in a country where brave men and women volunteer to die for a cause, our cause, our freedoms. Defending our freedoms means more than just fighting for the girls in Iraq, Kuwait, Afghanistan, and Nigeria. Defending our freedoms means more than just fighting for the Christians being persecuted around the globe. Defending our freedoms means more than taking out brutal dictators bent on global destruction or even national destruction. People look up to America to defend them from these evil people. People from around the globe look to America’s freedom fighters to help them rebel against those oppressive governments. Thank God we have people willing to sacrifice their lives for all of those people.

We live in a tolerant nation thanks to the less than one percent of our nation who is willing to stand up to those bullies. This one percent represent the finest America has to offer. This one percent puts their lives on hold while they serve America, while they serve you! While most kids are going off to college most of this one percent is going off to conflict. When they are through serving their country they find that on an individual basis they find more intolerance then they could have ever imagined. They find an education system that discriminates against their particular time in service. They find a healthcare system that cannot treat them. They find a bureaucracy that cuts benefits and uses them as pawns. We find a nation of short-term thinkers that want to show immediate gratitude as long as it doesn’t cost them anything in the long run. We praise our soldiers to their face and then we mock them behind their back. We tell them we appreciate their service, but that was then, you are on your own now.
Yes we are a tolerant nation. We tolerate the people who give us these freedoms. We tolerate them and put them on a pedestal for a day or two. But once the new wears off from them being home, once the new wears off from them having served for a great cause, after the new wears off from the stories of war, we all move on and leave them standing there not knowing where to turn. We leave them to learn on their own how this tolerant nation works. We leave them on their own to find out how a grateful nation can help them return to a normal life. Get over it and move on, you’re not in the military anymore. You are on your own.

We all have dreams, it’s just that some of us still dream of mortar fire and missiles. We all have dreams of getting an education, but some of us gave up that dream to serve a grateful nation. We all have dreams, but some of our dreams involve the bloody faces of our friends who died so that we could still dream. Yet we cut the funding to the very system that was set up to treat those having those awful dreams. We limit those that do get in to six sessions a year to deal with those dreams.

Today as I remember the fallen, the ones who made the ultimate sacrifice for our tolerant nation, I make a plea to you. I plea that you will never forget, that you will pray for daily, and that you will tell your children that being a tolerant nation has a cost. Tell them that their freedom isn’t free. Instill in their minds that our soldiers deserve to be hailed as heroes. Teach them to treat them with the respect that they deserve. Teach them that the few benefits that these veterans receive should never be bargaining chips in the debacle of Washington shenanigans. Finally teach your children that the men and women that died across the globe serving our country did so for them. They died so that all of our children could live a happy, healthy, free, and tolerant life.