Patriotism is learning to live with one another

Since I was a young child I was fascinated by pyrotechnics. While the chemistry of fireworks is fascinating, and the artistry that goes into creating the visual display is impressive, I have never really cared for the volume of the resulting booms. While I personally have never been in a war zone, I think about all the friends and family that have and imagine how hard it is for some of them to deal with a display which could look and sound something like a battleground. So, during this celebratory season around the 4th of July, I often think about the people I know who have fought for our country. I would like to share one of those stories with you now.

This story starts on a rural mountain road on the edge of the Sierra Nevada mountains in Northern California, not far from the second largest earthen dam in the country. It is just after 5 O’clock in the morning and two men have stopped their raised four wheel drive truck in the driveway of a property with a house and a mobile home. The two white men jump out of the truck and quickly wrap a chain around the post of a mailbox. They hook the chain to the rear axel of the truck and climb back in with the intent of uprooting the mailbox, which they have done on at least one other occasion. This time, however, the tables had turned and the mailbox won. After the truck stopped, the two men realized that they had left something behind. The rear axle of the truck and standing next to it was the mailbox’s owner, Bob.

Bob was a retired Navy SEAL; a career Navy man for more than 25 years. He was also a registered Democrat, a passionate animal rights advocate, and, by any measure, knew how to take care of himself. As Bob approached the vehicle he held his double-barreled shotgun and quietly told the two that they may as well just relax in the truck because the police were on their way.

Bob held several college degrees; one in inorganic chemistry, and one in industrial polymers. He was unapologetically liberal. Bob believed that this attack on his property, and others, was personally and politically motivated.

Sure, young white men make a sport of destroying rural mailboxes all the time. There had been other attempts to harass Bob and his wife through the years by these same two men. Bob believes that these were two of the same boys he once found beating a beagle along another rural road. Bob saved that dog and it often went camping with us during the summers until it eventually died of old age, having lived a good long life.

This is the story I think about when we are dealing with these people who want to piss off, or own, the liberals. These people feel that they have the right to do whatever they want, no matter what, and will harass anyone they can to make people leave them alone.

Typically they will not confront you directly because that carries risks that they aren’t willing to take. The two men in Bob’s story understood that they could not threaten Bob directly, so they harassed him by sneaking around in the early morning hours to cause problems for him. That is why they were there to pull out his mailbox once again. When Bob replaced the post with a cement filled one that was sunk two feet into the ground, they lost that battle as well.

We have seen increased activity in the past six years of people trying to “own the libs” at all levels. They spread fear about social issues, impersonate peaceful protestors to cause damage to reputation and property by starting civil unrest, and, in an all-time new low for Americans, attempt to corrupt the results of an election.

Sadly, we lost this Bob in 2019 from cancer, but there are many more Bobs out there that are fighting for our country in courtrooms, board rooms, and on the floor of state and federal legislatures. These Bobs understand that when you’re living within a society you must follow a social contract. You give up something to gain something of greater value.

When we surrender our selfish desire to do whatever we want, whenever we want, we gain a safer and more welcoming country. There will always be people who do not sign this contract but they are moving further and further to the extreme fringe. I would like to remind these people one thing: the further you move away from the majority of people towards the fringe, the closer you are to Heaven’s Gate.

I think of Bob as a person who embodies what it means to be a true American. A person who fought for what is right, what is fair, what is just. He was strong, intelligent, resilient, resourceful and caring. He could drink like a fish and swear like a sailor. He could talk seriously about his paranoia, explain exactly why he was so angry at the country, and still would have done anything in his power to defend it. When he trusted you, he trusted you completely, and when he didn’t trust you, he was still polite.

I miss Bob and I am sure that I am not the only one. I thank all the Bobs out there for their service to our messed up country.

We all could be a little bit more like Bob.