With everything that has happened in our country in the last few years many people are becoming more patriotic. Since 9/11, our nations flag has flown high, more students are saying the Pledge of Allegiance, and many cars now carry symbols of support for our troops. However, even with this new outlook on patriotism, some people are beginning to wonder if our actions are even patriotic at all, including our servicemen and women. Is it patriotic to fight in a war that many deem unjust? Or is more patriotic to flee to another country in protest without finishing your military contract? Our troops have been in Iraq for five and a half years now and there is no sign of retreat. However, this does not give our military personnel an excuse to just give up and throw in the towel. I believe the only way for our troops to show patriotism is to stay in our country and fulfill their military contractual agreement.
Since 9/11 there have been many reports of soldiers fleeing the country. According to CBS News, the estimates are between 100 and 250 to date (Soldiers). When certain soldiers were asked why they fled, the answer was always the same. They just couldnt take it. If this was the case, then why did they join in the first place, especially if they joined after the attacks? Everyone in the country knew we were going to war, and everyone knows why our military exists. How patriotic is it to join the service only to flee your family, friends, and, most importantly, your country when things get a little rough? Fleeing like a dog with its tail in between its legs only shames yourself, and, in some measures, America for producing such a fine citizen.
Many people deem the war at hand unjust, and some would go to the extent that war itself is unjust. It claims the lives of many of our best citizens, creates inflation, and causes civil unrest and arguments between our government officials. Although some claim this war is unjustified, it is necessary. Do we want our country to be full of tyranny, ran by money-hungry, power-tripping dictators who dont care about our well being, but only about the amount of money in their bank account? Our men and women serving this country are doing the best they can to preserve the freedoms our forefathers worked so hard to win ten scores ago (Wiesel). Our country is so great that people can flee this country without being shot for it. So why go? Is it just because you dont agree with the war? Running off is a great demonstration of protest against the war, that is, if you are talking with the other handful of individuals that ran off with you. In the larger scheme of things all you are doing is being pointed and laughed at.
An outstanding portrayal of patriotism is in our own Pat Tillman. He gave up a $3.6 million contract to go and fight for our country (Reid). Selflessly, he gave up everything he had, and eventually his life, to go and support America when she needed it the most. Some may think his death was just another wasted life, but the majority of Americans look upon him as a hero (Sudborough). It is not because of all the sacrifices he made, or because he played for the NFL, but that because of him, along with many others, I am able to write this essay today for a class that I am taking at the college of my choice so I can grow up to do what I want to do. Not everyone has the opportunities that Americans have, and it is due in full respect to our military, or at least the ones that stay and fight for our country.
The biggest argument of all is that this war is for our government, not for our freedom or America (Zinn). This is true to an extent, but if you think about it our country is our government and vice versa. Without our country there would obviously not be an American government, but without our government there is no America. Our government is what protects our freedoms, and it is that freedom that we fight so passionately for.
It is easy to argue for both sides of this argument. Both fleeing the country and fighting in a war take guts, but you must ask yourself which is more patriotic. Leaving the country you love, or fighting to your death to make sure that your children and grandchildren can enjoy the same freedoms you did growing up? There is only one answer to this question. You fight until the end, whether it is your end or the wars end. If someone has a hard time understanding the answer to this question they should ask his or herself, Am I really proud to be an American?Works CitedSoldiers Against Iraq Desert to Canada. CBS Sunday Morning. 28 Jan. 2007.
Zinn, Howard, Dying for the Government, America Now, ed. Robert Atwan(Boston: Bedford, 2005) 158-161Wiesel, Elie, The America I Love, America Now, ed. Robert Atwan(Boston: Bedford, 2005) 164-167Reid, Matt, The Extraordinary Life of an Ordinary Man, America Now, ed. RobertAtwan (Boston: Bedford, 2005) 172-174Sudborough, Gary, Pat Tillman: Hero or Wasted Life, American Now, ed. RobertAtwan (Boston: Bedford, 2005) 174-177