Today, celebrating the Fourth of July here:
Diyala Province, Iraq — Modern technology is an amazing thing. Shortly after my arrival at Forward Operating Base Caldwell in eastern Diyala Province, my fellow staff officers and I were able to purchase a satellite dish from a departing unit, manhandle it up to the roof of our building, point it in the general direction of a commercial satellite, and — voila! — we’re surfing the net. In our precious spare time, we chat with our families, download the occasional song from iTunes, and even play an online game or two. As for me, well, I read the news.
Perhaps my perspective is overly colored by my current circumstances, but I can’t recall a time when there was more outrage over — and reverence for — mere words. Mini-scandals seem to erupt daily over this or that “offensive” comment. Words seem to mean everything — even when defining patriotism. Whether it’s declaring dissent the “highest form” of patriotism, defining true patriotism as “speaking out” on issues, or even debating the meaning and definition of patriotism based largely on political positions and public pronouncements, it seems that words and symbols have captured the field.
That’s not to say that words and symbols don’t matter. Of course they do. I have dedicated my civilian career to defending religious liberty and freedom of speech, our first freedoms. But words matter largely because they tend to persuade people to take (or not take) certain actions. Words are important, but it is in the actions we take that we see the true character and heart of an individual.
I have now been mobilized with the 2d Squadron, 3d Armored Cavalry Regiment (LTC Paul T. Calvert, commanding) for more than eight months (251.5 days for those keeping score at home, and my wife and kids quite literally are), and I do not recall a single discussion or debate about patriotism. And it’s not like we don’t talk . . . a lot. We’ve had late night debates and even screaming arguments over politics, religion, the war, economics, and the best Will Ferrell comedy (it’s “Talladega Nights,” by the way, and if you disagree with me, please realize that I’m armed).
But we never really talk about patriotism. There’s no need for words, really. Over here, it’s the deeds that matter.
Read the rest here.