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Boomer Bytes #77: My Country Right or Wrong

Editor’s Note: Below is another column in Steve Canipe’s series called Boomer Bytes. The column, as the title suggests, will focus on a variety of topics that may be of interest to baby boomers, those born between 1946 and 1964. But Canipe also hopes to start a conversation with younger generations, too. Check out an introduction and Canipe’s (first self-titled) column here.

 My Country Right or Wrong

By Steve Canipe

Tomorrow we will be 239 years old. Really sort of young on the world stage. Just got back from Greece where they were talking about times of 7,000 years ago. Items that occurred in the time of Christ were new to them!!

Sort of puts our measly 239 years into a perspective. There is something to be said for us though. We began an experiment that was, at the time, pretty different. We began basically predicated on the idea of personal freedom and the ability to control our own lives. Of course the Constitution as first written was not universally accepted. It is why the founders went back and created the 10 amendments called the Bill of Rights. They, like the main body of the document, were compromises.

It is important to remember that in the time post-Revolutionary War we did not have a federation of states but a group of separate colonies that were basically independent of each other. Some of the colonies were more powerful and richer than others…notably Massachusetts, New York, and Pennsylvania. The two Carolinas were pretty much considered backwaters and except for some wealthy farmers growing cotton and tobacco on the Coastal Plain, there was nothing much going on in the two states.

Probably there were some naysayers proposing that the country would be able to survive. After all there was not a unanimous feeling that we should rid ourselves of being a colony. There were large numbers of Tories (Crown sympathizers) and many of them fled to Canada after the War was won. They just disagreed with what was happening or maybe how it was happening.

During the Viet Nam War, there were many who opposed the war but there were also people who wanted folks opposed to leave the country. The words that were used were along the lines of “love it or leave it.” I was not sure at the time exactly what was the meaning that folks were saying because the free speech rights enshrined in the Bill of Rights gave everyone the right to say what he or she felt – being either pro-war or anti-war. It was mostly boomers who were anti-war – burning draft cards and in general being against the war effort. Not every boomer was antiwar although during the time it did seem so.

War protestors were loud and organized and, in hindsight, media savvy. It didn’t take much to arouse a group (some called them mobs)to protest and act out. Television cameras and print media reporters were willing to cover the story. Tie this together with the seemingly hundreds of flag draped coffins that were flying back to the country daily.

Some of the young men were probably afraid and were using their fear to demonstrate against the war. Others probably were afraid but willing to go do their duty if their country’s government asked them to go. Still others were anxious to go to war and prove their manhood, their macho-ness, their warrior spirit, or whatever. It was not a megalithic effort to be against the war, although it must have seemed so at times.

Remembering discussions in Justice Hall on the Appalachian State campus, there were many more patriotic men willing to go and fight, even those who did not agree with the war. So what was this patriotism?

I generally love being an American and am proud of our experiment in democracy. This does not by any means mean that I buy the “love it or leave it” mentality or the title of this column “my country, right or wrong, my country.” My view is that because I do love my country, I want to make it better. This means opposing things that I think detract from the greatness that is America. It means supporting those things that I see as our ideals.

Achieving an ideal is hard and maybe it will never happen. Many groups of people over the years have tried and some have even founded utopian societies. There have been so many attempts over the years but all have generally failed and in some cases miserably failed. See a listing of some of the ones that were founded in the United States and follow the links for more information at (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_American_Utopian_communities).


The founders of the country were really experimenting with a form of government that, at the time, was not well known or understood. Loosely based on some earlier models, the founders took it several steps further. When we were founded we had just defeated the greatest army and navy in the world. Well maybe defeat is too strong a word – they really got tired of fighting in the homeland of England and just gave up! Pretty much what we did in Viet Nam.

But accepting what your country does is more than feeling proud at seeing the stars and stripes waving in the breeze, it is more than feeling a little chill when the Star Spangled Banner is played. It is accepting your responsibility to try to improve the lot of yourself and your fellow countrymen. We are engaged in a social contract whereby we follow the implied “be your brother’s keeper” from Genesis.

It is not just enough to look out after yourself and your family. Looking at some of the television shows of today of the doomsday preppers, you would not think that people feel any obligation for each other. However when a natural disaster hits, Americans (although not always the government) pour out their wealth and time to help others. This happens with Christian-based organizations like our own Samaritan’s Purse in Boone, NC, and other more secular groups. These include the American Civil Liberties Union, Amnesty International, and   Doctors without Borders.

So many things make me proud to be an American but there are so many other things that make me a bit ashamed. But even with that, there is not another country or place in the world that I would want to live. I guess I do have America and American values in my blood and don’t want to move anywhere else; although I have been lucky to have seen a number of other countries all over the world. While I might like to live for a short while in another country, I cannot imagine pulling up and actually permanently moving anywhere else.

It does sadden me when politicians are so seemingly ignorant of the Constitution and when a governor says he is afraid that the United States Army is coming to invade his state and puts the National Guard in his state on standby. First the National Guard is really just that – to guard the nation not Texas. Their equipment and training are mostly if not totally paid for by the federal government. As I see it and this is one of my rights to see it that way – the Texas governor is simply fear mongering for political gain. Surely he cannot be serious.

We already fought a great Civil War to prove that each state is a part of a Union not an individual fiefdom of a political hack. No doubt some readers will disagree with me and that is your right as a citizen in this greatest country on earth—the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA!!

Tomorrow, 4 July 2015, is our country’s 239th birthday. I hope it is a happy birthday and that we all get back to the real core values of this great nation. I hope you will take a chance to read the Declaration of Independence, a beautiful poetic work that set the stage for the Revolutionary War (http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/charters/declaration_transcript.html) and then read the U. S. Constitution, which is the foundation of all of our laws (https://www.whitehouse.gov/1600/constitution).

Once you have read these on the country’s birthday, I ask you to take a few minutes to post your thoughts about our country below or share with me via email at boomerbytes@yahoo.com. May God bless our country!!