I was an American Ex-Pat living in Prague back in the early 90s, along with probably 20-30,000 other Americans. It was not long after The Berlin Wall fell and the Czech Republic was exciting, scary, changing, growing, building, and just starting to dip its collective feet into the waters of Democracy. It was June 6, 1994.
My most vivid memory that day was seeing a group of WWII-era tanks roll into Old Town Square on the 50th anniversary of D-Day. I was at first shocked, then in awe, then after a few moments a wave of American patriotism swept over me. At some point, perhaps an hour had passed, I finally broke down and wept.
I started thinking hard about what the Czech people had faced in their history. Prague is a Capitol city that has a 1,000+ year history. You can stroll the city and see reminders of the Renaissance and the Dark Ages; reminders of the Industrial Revolution and the Victorian Era; of rule by the Communists and being controlled by the Nazi's. It's all there in Prague. Around every turn of every corner, behind every monument, in all of the underground stations, and in every Communist-era theater. You see and live history. And through all of the various regimes and political ideologies, you see a people who have survived every incursion. They not only witnessed history, they lived and breathed it.
I started thinking on that day back in 1994 that I was damn proud to be an American. Our soldiers in WWII were fighting for a cause. A tremendous CAUSE. They were fighting against the Axis powers, and they laid their lives on the line to defend an idea. That idea was democracy. A political idea that could be shared with the entire world. Sharing. That's a powerful word. It seems to be a word that many of us Pro-America American's embrace. But on some of these quiet nights, I truly wonder what the right thinks about this word. I really do. Do they grasp the significance of this one, small word? Do they understand what our position in the world, especially during WWII, used to be?
We were admired. Granted we entered into that war a bit on the late side. But could we be blamed? As a nation, we had already seen the horrors, up close and in vivid colors, of the first World War. But during that era; during that time of political upheaval, American stood for something strong and unflinching. We stood for one strong and central idea - that WE THE PEOPLE was not just an intangible thought. WE THE PEOPLE meant America - Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave. We represented FREEDOM. From tyranny, from oppression, from ideals that shot from the foaming mouth of Hitler and his minions. We represented an ideal that millions of people gave their lives for, and so many people today take for granted. We stood up for other nations and loudly proclaimed that we had entered the war and we would not, WE WOULD NOT, turn back, or turn our back, on the people of the world.
With this in mind, I started thinking tonight about my first DAILY KOS post. It is a little after midnight and I am celebrating my 44th birthday alone, but happy to be sharing my small story with my fellow readers.
Tonight, I thought back to that day in 1994. I stood with a group of Czech friends and witnessed honest-to-God, actual tanks roll into the square. It almost looked like the a set that was dressed for one of the many films that were always being shot in and around Praha. We were all silent for a long time. I saw older Czech women and men, some who surely had lived during that era, have fear in their eyes. They had witnessed first-hand the horrors of the Nazi's quickly taking over their beloved town. But I also witnessed tears of joy that day when they realized that these were AMERICAN tanks. Amerika, they would whisper. Amerika.
And so, on this quiet evening, my thoughts go back to these remarkable, generous people who embraced me for six years while I lived amongst them as an American ex-patriot. Tonight, I glance at headlines on DK and on the Huffington Post; blogs on CNN and MSNBC. I channel-surf to Fox News and all the rest, and I am reminded what freedom truly can be. And what once was. And what is systematically, day-by-day, and minute-by-minute being destroyed by small men and women who THINK they understand what America is.
I am deeply saddened as I watch pundits and prognosticators, most often on the far right, tear apart the very fabric of Old Glory that these World War II soldiers gave their lives for. I am constantly, CONSTANTLY reminded of the famous line, and I'm paraphrasing,
"Those Who Forget History Are Doomed To Repeat It."
I live a quiet life on a small farm in Northwestern Ohio. I am surrounded by signs extolling McCain-Palin. Every time I drive into my little town I see the failures - and future failures - of the so-called 'thinking' of men like McCain and women like Palin. I won't bother to give them titles like Senator and Governor - in my eyes, as the mountain of mud-slinging grows, I simply see them each as two-word slogans: Country First. In my book, they have lost the right to be given any weighty titles of deference.
During World War II - FDR and the entire American nation probably never had in its collective consciousness that sophomoric phrase. Every school boy and girl realized, once the War effort began, that this was a GLOBAL war, hence the phrase WORLD WAR. Together, as a nation, as AMERICANS we set out out rid the world of a cancer. Of a political ideology so perverse, so dark, so severe that it surely scared even priests and seasoned politicians with decades of service. We set out to truly encompass the idea of WORLD FIRST.
Well, 'My Friends,' we have a new and growing cancer in America today. It is represented by the felonious rantings of people like Nancy Pfotenhauer and Michele Bachmann; by the lunacy of people like Rush Limbaugh and Pat Buchanan; and by the twisted minds of John McCain and Sarah Palin. And that cancer is in denial about one supreme fact: We Are Not Alone. The world is like the human body: it is one organism. One living, breathing, caring, despondent, gentle, strong, growing, expanding, contracting, wild organism. It is ONE. We are all connected, not to put to fine a point on it. And we need a President who, first and foremost, understands that point.
Sen. Barack Obama gets that. He gets that one undeniable fact: that, yes, of course, we want to put Country First and protect our interests and citizens, our ideals and goals - but in the final analysis - we are, ALL OF US, part of a bigger organism. We are all part of planet Earth. We have to learn to play in the sandbox with all of the other kids.
John McCain DOESN'T GET THAT. He is that petulant child who always seemed to cower in the corner, unwilling and physically unable to "Play Nice." He thinks he is a champion of America; but to me he is the champion of Anti-America. He is not FOR AMERICA. He is FOR CERTAIN AMERICANS. He is the patient in the hospital that all of the nurses dread, for today they just might draw the short straw and have to be his caregiver that day.
June 6, 1994. I wish you all could have seen the stature of our nation in the eyes of the Czechs that day. It was something to behold. And now, two weeks from the end of this Alice In Wonderland election - does anyone out there really believe that, as a Nation, we are seen with that same deference and sense of purpose by those same people's and countries today? Does anyone truly believe in their heart-of-hearts that John McCain really still isn't that angry kid standing alone in the corner? If you do, I understand. Not everyone had the amazing honor and opportunity to witness what I did. But I hope you will think long and hard about one thing as I end this diary: we are now in the 21st Century. The world has entered a new century. As a nation, what are we ready to stand for again, and who will we ask to stand for us??
Deep down, ask yourself this question: Is John McCain honestly the leader you picture standing on the dais addressing the WORLD'S POLITICAL BODY, the United Nations? And at this late hour of the election, can we really believe that this 72 year old, unrepentant man now wants to "play nice" with the world? ONE WORLD. You either get it, or you don't.