The blasting sounds of cannons and muskets exploding in the distance rang out as the distinct smell of burning gunpowder permeated the landscape. Unaware of what was hiding behind the trees, British soldiers marched in unison down the tree-lined dirt road. Hiding in the forest were patriots, farmers and common men both young and old holding rifles, swords, axes and rustic farm equipment. As their hearts pounded and their shallow, rapid breaths created small clouds of fog in the cold morning air, they stood silently. They stood as free men, free men willing to die rather than merely exist under the shackles of tyranny. Against all odds, they were willing to stand up to perhaps the most powerful army in the history of the world to build a nation of their own ... and what a nation they built.
244 years later
At the suggestion of Siri, my iPhone alarm woke me up a little early on my day off. I slowly arose from my adjustable bed and stumbled to the kitchen to make a perfect cup of pick-me-up with my instant coffee maker. After filling my stomach with some leftovers from my wonderful wifes cooking, I began rummaging through my overflowing closet to pick out something to wear. As I shuffled through my shirts, I suddenly came across the Trump sweatshirt that I had worn to a rally a couple of weeks before.
A little apprehensive to wear it in the public square, the blood of my forefathers began to boil through my veins as I remembered the Democrats scheme to remove President Donald Trump from office and render my vote meaningless. Defiantly, I threw on the sweatshirt, jumped in my Jeep and headed out to do some last-minute Christmas shopping.
Driving to my destination, I began to wonder, Why the apprehension? Im an outspoken Trump supporter !q why do I feel any hesitation at all about advertising it on a sweatshirt in public?
The answer came quickly. People with loud voices on large media and social media !q stages are trying to label this president and his supporters as something that we are not. They call us racists; they call us bigots, sexists, uneducated and hate-mongers full of incoherent rage.
None of this is true.
I was raised to believe we should love everyone at a human level regardless of ethnicity, religion or political persuasion. That every human being should be treated with dignity and respect, regardless of disability or social status. Our culture has produced this massive lie that somehow disagreement equals hate.
Maybe thats a big part of the political and social chasm that exists today. The truth is I can disagree with aspects of your life, with your beliefs, with your decisions and still love and respect you as a fellow human being.
Why are we silent?
As I arrived at my first destination and maneuvered through the busy aisles, I began to observe peoples faces as they spotted my sweatshirt. Some people smiled and nodded; some couldnt hide their disdain, while a few actually whispered, Nice sweatshirt. A woman at a register lowered her voice and spoke quietly but vehemently of her disdain for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and described the impeachment as a total travesty.
In the next store, the man at the checkout looked quickly over his right shoulder before pointing at my sweatshirt and giving me a silent thumbs-up.
Driving home, I tried to sort it all out. Why are people afraid to express themselves with their voices at normal volume? Why the secrecy?
Maybe living in the most comfortable time in the most prosperous place in human history has made us forget about how all of this came to be. Have we forgotten the brave men and women who were willing to sacrifice everything to give us this nation? Has our comfort somehow caused us to bow to mischaracterizations and lies in order to avoid any form of confrontation? Do we lack the courage to speak truth regardless of the risk of offending others? Have we ever second-guessed saying the words Merry Christmas to a stranger? Does the fear of being falsely labeled cause us to lower our voices to a whisper?
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Hasnt the incredible courage of common men standing up to the mighty British Empire for freedoms sake afforded us the right (at the very least) to wear whatever sweatshirt we want? To have our say?
This quote from the author G. Michael Hopf has stayed with me: Hard times create strong men. Strong men create good times. Good times create weak men. And, weak men create hard times.
The late, great Ronald Reagan said it perhaps better than anyone: Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didnt pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our childrens children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.
So if you ever wear a Trump sweatshirt out in public and you suddenly hear someone yell from across the aisle, Hey buddy! Nice sweatshirt! that will probably be me.
God bless and merry Christmas.
Charles Stouff owns A+PC, a computer repair company in Manor Township. Hes also a former freelance cartoonist.
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