On that particular day, we were filled with an extra measure of excitement. After all, not only did we get to eat all of the cotton candy we wanted but we would watch my Dad march in parade. The fact that Dad was retiring would end my involvement with the Army and these celebrations; or so my adolescent mind had it figured. It was the 4th of July, and the family had joined Augusta in celebrating at Fort Gordon.
It was many years later that I learned to appreciate just what we were celebrating. I was reminded again last week as I attended a committee meeting. Patrick Waters, a colleague, responded to my reference to Homeland Security by saying Youre darn right I have a problem with them. Its costing the taxpayer a fortune and they arent providing any security.
Unfortunately, his comment was reported to Homeland Security. That afternoon, the police arrested him at his office, and we all watched as he was taken out to be placed in prison without trial. Such comments cannot be tolerated. After all, President Bush has ordered the formation of Homeland Security. Being the representative of God on earth, President Bushs edict was the personification of Gods will. Therefore, to question his orders is to question God, right?
Wrong. Waters made his comment that day without fear of the result that I have described in this fictionalized version. Likewise, his colleagues unreservedly made return comments; some in agreement, some in contradiction. But all were free to express their opinion because George W. Bush, we all recognized, is not the sole representative of God and his administration is that of a very human individual trying to make a difference to the citizens who placed him in office.
t seems almost mundane, in this modern age, to point out the fact that Bush is not related to deity. The very idea that he might be probably causes some smirks and smiles. But when our Founding Fathers wrote the Constitution, this was not the case.
In the world of Thomas Jefferson and Ben Franklin, this was an alien concept. A king who was not representative of God? The thought was so radical that it took a revolution to get it sanctioned by Europe. It was so radical that George Washington felt compelled after the revolution to turn down the crown of royalty and ask for another title just to assure that no relation would exist between himself, his office, and the deity. It was so radical that this one idea had to be the basis for the rest of the Bill of Rights: The separation of church and state. Without that one thought, the rest of what we hold so dear could not exist.
Think of that for just one moment. If the president of the United States were considered to be representative of God, there would be no need for the legislative and judicial branches of government. If this were the basis of our government, none of our civil rights could exist. You would not have a right to free speech, to assemble peacefully, to bear arms, to vote. In fact, if George Bush were the representative of God, it is doubtful if I would appear in this newspaper; the newspaper probably would not exist without the governments authorization.
But with this one belief, and the rights that so naturally followed, came a responsibility. That responsibility is also alluded to by my aforementioned colleagues comment. That responsibility is to carry out the exercise of our rights in an informed, efficient and effective manner. So you dont think Homeland Security is doing the job? Then it is your duty, as a citizen, to express your opinion not only to your colleagues but to the government. It is your responsibility to cast your vote every election for the politicians who represent your opinions on this and other matters.
It is your inherent responsibility to exercise, and defend, all of your rights consistently so that this government of the people, by the people, and for the people shall not perish from this earth.
Patrick Waters felt compelled after that meeting to explain that his comment was not meant to be unpatriotic. He need not have offered an explanation. In exercising his opinion, he has probably made one of the most patriotic stands that I have witnessed in some time.
Wave the flag, watch the fireworks at Patriots Park, but above all take the time to reflect on what it truly means to be a patriot in this country; and then work to practice it every day.
(Dennis Jones is a Martinez resident.)
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