Just a Thought | The Price of Being a Proud American

By Rick Kraft

PHOTO: Rick Kraft | The South Pasadenan | Normandy, France
PHOTO: Rick Kraft | The South Pasadenan | Normandy, France

I have stood 30 meters below where the first atomic bomb was exploded in Hiroshima, Japan on August 6, 1945. I have been in Sparta where countless battles occurred in the 5th century B.C. between warring communities within what is modern day Greece. I have looked over the battlefield at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania where the tide was turned in our Civil War in the first three days of July 1863.

I stood over the bunker where Adolph Hitler took his life on April 30, 1945. I have walked the square in Paris where the unsuccessful June 1832 rebellion occurred that was covered in the production Les Miserables. I have peered out of the tower of the North Church in Boston where Paul Revere began his famous ride on April 18, 1775 and visited Yorktown, Virginia where the last American Revolutionary War battle occurred on October 19, 1981.

When I visited these and countless other battle locations around the world, I always ask myself the pressing question “Why?”

- Advertisement -

How many lives have been lost because of loyalty to one’s country? No one will be able to ever accurately calculate this number. Mankind has been killing mankind since Adam and Eve’s son Cain murdered his brother Abel.

History repeats itself. Empires rise and empires fall.

The Assyrian Empire thought they would rule the world forever in the 8th century B.C. So did the Babylonian Empire who defeated the Assyrians and had the power in the 6th century B.C. The Persians were the world power in the 5th century B.C. until the Greeks under Alexander the Great conquered most of the known world to the east in the 4th century B.C. Enter the Romans. Their Empire stretched from England to Egypt and was supposed to last forever. It did not.

The Byzantine Empire was the world power in the 7th century, ruling from Constantinople.  The dark ages followed. People were just happy to be alive after the plague hit. The Ottoman Empire ruled the world in the 17th century. After the Renaissance came Napoleon Bonaparte and the French Empire planning on world domain forever. Then the British Empire followed. Its seafaring power stretched so far that almost a quarter of the world became British. It did not last either.

PHOTO: Rick Kraft | The South Pasadenan | Normandy, France
PHOTO: Rick Kraft | The South Pasadenan | Normandy, France

Hitler took control of Europe, northern Africa, and the Nazi Empire was on the move into Asia when their kingdom ended. Enter the United States of America, today’s most powerful country.

Believe it or not, America’s 247 years in existence makes it one of the longest running governments in the world today. Someday the history books might tell of the US Empire, the times we live in, and its fall.

Being a citizen of this great nation at this time is a blessing. This is our time to be proud to be members of the world’s most powerful country.

Why do I share the above? Not out of pessimism, but out of gratitude. No one will ever know how many precious lives have been cut short or permanently disabled because of those who have gone before us in the name of our country. Wars are fought differently today than they were a thousand years ago, or even a hundred years ago.

Bottom line, there is nothing free about freedom. Your freedom is a result of countless individuals who have gone before you, giving our country a blank check including everything they had including their lives. There are countless sacrifices that have occurred for you to be able to live free today.

PHOTO: Derek Vaughan | SouthPasadenan.com | A flag hangs in memorium.

There are heroes who walk among us today who have been willing to pay the ultimate sacrifice for this nation of America that we are so blessed to live in.

On Tuesday we celebrate our nation’s 247th birthday. I am proud to be an American and to live in this time. I am grateful to each and every man and woman who paid for my freedom today, many with their lives or the lives of their loved ones. I am also grateful for those on the front lines today, ready to give the ultimate sacrifice at this time.

I wish we could live in a world where peace prevails and our young men and women don’t have to be put in harm’s way. But it is just a matter of time before more deaths and life changing injuries occur.

If you are going to drink from the well, thank those who went ahead of you and dug it.

My challenge to you today is to remember and recognize this 4th of July that every blessing that comes with being an American is a result of individuals who believed in our nation and gave of themselves so you and I can live free today. So you and I can speak freely and travel unrestricted. So you and I don’t live in fear of a knock on our door and our family being taken away.

May God bless those selfless individuals and their families who over the last two and a half centuries entered the arena of war for the benefit of each one of us today.

This is a great country America. I am proud to be an American. May we remain proud, but also remain humble. And may our stars and stripes fly high in the sky for countless generations to come.

Just a thought…

Rick Kraft, a South Pasadena High School graduate, is a syndicated columnist, a motivational speaker, a published author, and an attorney.  To submit comments, contributions, or ideas, e-mail to rkraft@kraftlawfirm.org.