Updated: Nov 13
On more than one occasion during the course of this year my patriotism was called into question. As a result of the stand I was making my value as a citizen was adjusted. Instead of lashing out I chose another path. I narrowed my focus. I was eventually moved to action.
I did not fully grasp my emotional attachment to my country until October of 1994. The USS Tripoli, carrying Marines and Sailors, pulled into Pearl Harbor on our way back to the states, en route to completing my first six-month deployment abroad.
Standing near the rails in my uniform my thoughts centered on fun in Honolulu, before the final trip across the Pacific to my home in California. As our ship drifted abreast the USS Arizona Monument in Pearl Harbor my mood changed. An hour later I stepped back on U.S. soil for the first time in nearly six months. I was not prepared for the emotions I felt that day.
My love for my country can not be measured. I believe in the ideals of our system, and I believe every person is equal. More important to me, my country is not defined by a single person. Our leaders are supposed to serve us. They are not above us. They serve the people.
I Made A Stand
When we label an entire race of people out of fear, we sacrifice our own humanity.
In early 2017 I made a conscientious decision to stand up and let those around know where my moral compass points. I began a concerted campaign on social media, as well as emails to senators and congressional representatives. Though I would later take a back seat in 2017, these actions set the stage for the eventual insight I would gain this year.
The seismic events of 2020 no longer allowed me to remain on the sidelines. It was time to ensure my circle learned exactly where I stood. Earlier this year my circle was a predominance of Trump voters who were never going to budge. I knew from the onset I was not changing any minds. I was fishing for information. What I received in return scared me. The insight I gained is ultimately what pushed me to action.
Though I was already aligned against President Trump, I was not aware of the fervor of his supporters. To have my patriotism questioned because I was critical of a politician was shocking to me. If this had been isolated to one or two people I could have dismissed it. All too often my status as a citizen was marginalized in the eyes of others simply because I planned to vote for Joe Biden. I was labeled as godless, and one person even wished to see my business burned to the ground.
I Went Silent
As the summer of 2020 progressed I was faced with a personal reality. Simply voting was not going to get the job done. If I truly loved my country I was going to have to do more. It was time to work in the background.
Oftentimes, over the past years, I felt dismay. Our leaders, respected men and women of public service, remained silent. There was an anonymous op ed piece, and a few books, but nothing of substance. And then finally someone became my guiding light. General James Mattis, USMC retired.
General Mattis wrote a letter to The Atlantic. In that letter he spelled out my exact sentiments. His shining example in defense of our great country gave me the final push to do something I had never done before. I joined a political campaign. I began to fight for my country.
By this point my circle had expanded. Through various channels I learned that many friends from my past shared the same concerns for our republic. I reached out and we formed a private social media group. The intent was to share ideas to make a real impact on the outcome of this election.
Two states where Biden was considered a long shot were Arizona and Georgia. After joining the Biden campaign and democratic call center, these two states are where I spent the majority of my efforts. I was not fighting to elect Joe Biden. I was fighting to preserve the republic. I was fighting for my country.
We Are All Patriotic
A day in the western Pacific I recall a sunset lighting the horizon dark red. Our ship was nearing the Philippines. I wondered what my high school and college friends were doing at that moment in time. Years later I have my answer. They were being awesome. They were working jobs and living their lives as citizens of this great country. They were being patriotic.
That I served my country for 20 years does not make me better than anyone. Former Presidents Bush, Obama, current President Trump, and future President Biden, are not better than me. They are not better than you. These gentlemen are merely individuals who occupied, or will occupy, The Office of The Presidency.
These past few months I fought for my country. Friends of mine fought with me. Some of the same friends I thought of while on the other side of the world. We fought to defeat a man whose followers place him at a level no person should ever be as a U.S. Citizen.
I do not view all Trump supporters as angry individuals who wish harm upon me, or question my patriotism. Many of them are dear friends and loved family members. The individuals in my close circle, who probably voted for Trump, have done nothing to shake my respect for each. It was the fringes of that circle, connections which allowed me to come in contact with aggression, to become a subject of derision, which moved me to action.
The pride I feel in my heart, after having made a real difference, is difficult to place into words. The private group grew to 14 people across 5 states. We did more than win. We stood up for our country. We fought against a misogynist. We stood up against a racist. We stood together on the side of love and acceptance.
With the impending victory I look forward to further embracing my solidified relationships. I did not make this effort for political reasons. I made this effort in support of my moral compass.
I will again become vigilant as we approach 2024. There are tremors of Trump running again. If he does, and the Republicans nominate someone else, I will breathe a sigh of relief. I’ve voted Republican more times than I have voted for a Democrat. I look forward to a person from the Republican party who I can get behind.
Should Donald Trump resurface and become a candidate for president in 2024, then I will once again fight for the soul of my country. With what I learned this year I have no doubt I could make a larger impact. As a country we can never again allow a despotic individual to ascend to such a position of leadership.
For now I celebrate. I am proud of those who I fought alongside this year. I am proud of my efforts. I am as proud to call myself a citizen of The United States as I ever have been.
I am the same as you. I am a citizen of The United States. And I love my country.
About The Author
My name is Jerry. In addition to running a hiking club, I also own and operate a coffee shop & bookstore. Check it out here.