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From the Left Hand Corner: Patriotism is not partisan

Patriotism is not partisan. To most of us, patriotism is simply love of our country. Arguably, it is loving our country, warts and all.

The Republican claim to the moral high ground is tiresome and unsettling. We can be liberal Democrats and have strong faith in an almighty God, and, at the same time, support and participate in our imperfect government, which is us.

Mr. Abler last week declares it, “would be fantastic to have some leaders who actually believed in God and Country and then put the belief into meaningful actions.” Take a look around. We have numerous elected officials, Republican and Democrat, who do just that, albeit in differing ways. We have a DFL congressman who does it every day. We have DFL legislators who do the same. It is part and parcel of their public service.

Unfortunately, how many times have you heard radio talk show hosts and talk show callers puff themselves up and self identify as “Patriots”? They congratulate themselves and likeminded as “Super Patriots,” I suppose, to the exclusion of all of the rest of us. In the next breath, they spew venom, if not hatred, toward many aspects of our country that don’t jibe with their narrow view of how they think things should be.

During past years, some veterans’ organizations shifted strongly to the political right. Large parts of Legion papers and periodicals began to read similar to Republican campaign brochures.

For the first half century of my existence and observance, that was not the case. I don’t remember any hint of politics or partisanship in our observance and appreciation of all those who served and sacrificed so much for our country.

The Memorial Day column last week conjured a scenario where U.S. officers and military (Democrat administration) “didn’t even try to save our fellow countrymen” (Benghazi) without any factual basis to support such accusation.

In another sampling, it is unfair to take a few words of our president out of context, then contend that he doesn’t appreciate the horror of loss of life of loved ones and effect on survivors.

It is also unfair to allude to former Secretary Clinton’s asking whether identity of attackers as terrorists, angry Muslim demonstrators or protesters matters much to those who suffered consequences. That doesn’t mean she doesn’t care. When grilled by a Republican interrogator as to whether the four people were killed by terrorists or angry Muslim demonstrators or protesters, she did say, “Does it matter?” as to who initiated the attack on the American offices. She did not in any way make light of the fact that four people lost their lives.

To charge that negative action or inaction of unnamed persons under our present Democrat administration is unconscionable is itself unconscionable, when one has no factual basis to substantiate such allegation.

Of course, it would be unconscionable for our military personnel to stand off and make no effort to save American citizens because of some perceived political expediency. However, there is no indication that they did so, and no showing of knowledge or opportunity to prevent the attack.

We are all studies in contradiction, whether we like it or not, admit it or not. As one often and correctly labeled as liberal or progressive or both, I find it really offensive to be labeled as being part of throwing Memorial Day in the trash can.

I planned on Monday to attend Memorial Day services as I have for most of the past 70 years. I hoped to be with a visiting sister-in-law from North Carolina and another from Eveleth. We were to be in company of cousins and other close family.

Most of them are liberal Democrats, like this writer. A couple are solidly Republican.

Many other Democrats like me did the same. I don’t remember attending any service, watching any parade, observing any marching, listening to Taps and thinking or caring whether any other spectators or participants were Republican or Democrat.

I remember as a small boy being very moved and saddened by the fact that a neighbor, Paul Paulson, was killed in World War II. I didn’t really know him, but it was scary with my brother, uncle and cousins overseas at the time. I remember that the Pequot Chronicle (then version of Echo) was virtually filled with pictures and reports of area young in their armed service uniforms. I grew up with a dad talking about Ben Krueger, who gave his life in World War I.

A longtime friend who was strongly Democrat and a proud Navy vet from World War II some years ago proclaimed in disgust over the seeming rightward swing of veterans’ groups, “Dammit, us Democrats fought them wars, too.” That was in reaction to the “partisan” aura in the local Legion post at the time. As a former commander, he was so upset with the Republican emphasis of his veterans’ group and local Post club that he stopped attending after 60 years of active membership and participation.

My brother, much to mom’s fear and concern, left high school on his 17th birthday, Feb. 12, 1943, to join the Navy. He went to serve on a destroyer in the Pacific. He wasn’t old enough to vote for any of his years in service, but he did come back and voted Democrat for the rest of the years of his life.

My uncle and cousins all served in the U.S. Navy during World War II. One cousin survived the sinking of the U.S. Wasp. Another cousin followed his father’s footsteps and served more recently. I believe all of them who served in the U.S. military, and proudly so, came home and lived and advocated and voted as Democrats.

My dad first voted for Woodrow Wilson before being called to service in World War I in France and Germany, and last voted for Jimmy Carter and every Democrat candidate for president, Congress and the Legislature in between. He also marched in Memorial Day parades and attended and observed Memorial Day services as long as he was physically able.

I deplore and object to last week’s opinion that liberal progressives have “trash canned” Memorial Day, just as I react to a Brainerd Dispatch editorial remark that our leaders (who today happen to be Democrat) “are trampling on the memories of the heroes that gave their lives.”

There is no rational basis for such contentions.

In conclusion, there was no partisan flavor nor finger-pointing in the real expression of patriotism that existed through most of our lives. There is no legitimate call to politicize it and attach party labels to it now.

Patriotism is not partisan.