It Wasn’t About Politics

People have repeatedly pushed me to express my political views or to tell me that I shouldn’t go to the Mother’s Day Tea (Obama’s) or to Inaugural Parade (Trump) because of their own views. To me? It doesn’t matter who is in a position of power, I go to honor and to remember a man who chose our country at the age of 18. I go to honor the man who chose the United States over France and Venezuela because he recognized the freedoms and opportunities given to him with his American citizenship.

 

At the age of 12, Phil came to our country knowing two words of English: sumateamus for sometimes and ewsa for USA. As he approached high school graduation, he realized that he was going to have to return to Venezuela and then to France to serve in their militaries because at the time both had mandatory military service. He had witnessed first-hand what happens if a country does not operate under a true democracy. In Venezuela, the rich get richer, the poor get poorer, and if a person disagrees with the political party, opportunities dry up. His 90 year old father still has to work and cannot leave Venezuela without giving up all of his assets. Phil wanted the American dream. He wanted the freedoms I had taken for granted since birth.

 

He joined the military and was granted citizenship at 18. Phil spent 16 years enlisted; 10 as an officer. He planned to stay in until the Air Force made him retire because he loved it that much. While Phil never had recruiting duty, everywhere we went, he spoke to young people about the many benefits of military service. He woke our five children up with Jodies and military cadence chants. He reminded our children that as Americans they should be willing to give back through military service or service to others? Is there any wonder why we have four of five of our children serving?

 

Phil volunteered to go to Afghanistan five days after finishing his PhD because he believed in two things. He believed he needed to set the example for the cadets and his own children that service included commitment and sacrifice. He volunteered because he believed that through education and empathy nations could change. Ultimately, the biggest betrayal came when someone he liked and trusted (should have been able to like and trust) assassinated him. I recognize that Phil’s story is bigger than life because of his choices and his death. It is for that commitment, devotion, loyalty, and love of country that I go to events at the White House.

 

I go to pay homage to those who like Phil, give everything defending those rights for the rest of us. The Inaugural Parade was a chance for me to celebrate my country, my life, and the life of my Phil. To walk the streets of Washington DC with my daughter in law who chose our country also, to see our new President, and to stand united as a nation is what it was about for me. My voice is love and devotion to my flag and my citizenship. My voice is for Phil who is the ideal that our country was founded on. I am the flag.

People have repeatedly pushed me to express my political views or to tell me that I shouldn’t go to the Mother’s Day Tea (Obama’s) or to Inaugural Parade (Trump) because of their own views. To me? It doesn’t matter who is in a position of power, I go to honor and to remember a man who chose our country at the age of 18. I go to honor the man who chose the United States over France and Venezuela because he recognized the freedoms and opportunities given to him with his American citizenship.

 

At the age of 12, Phil came to our country knowing two words of English: sumateamus for sometimes and ewsa for USA. As he approached high school graduation, he realized that he was going to have to return to Venezuela and then to France to serve in their militaries because at the time both had mandatory military service. He had witnessed first-hand what happens if a country does not operate under a true democracy. In Venezuela, the rich get richer, the poor get poorer, and if a person disagrees with the political party, opportunities dry up. His 90 year old father still has to work and cannot leave Venezuela without giving up all of his assets. Phil wanted the American dream. He wanted the freedoms I had taken for granted since birth.

 

He joined the military and was granted citizenship at 18. Phil spent 16 years enlisted; 10 as an officer. He planned to stay in until the Air Force made him retire because he loved it that much. While Phil never had recruiting duty, everywhere we went, he spoke to young people about the many benefits of military service. He woke our five children up with Jodies and military cadence chants. He reminded our children that as Americans they should be willing to give back through military service or service to others? Is there any wonder why we have four of five of our children serving?

 

Phil volunteered to go to Afghanistan five days after finishing his PhD because he believed in two things. He believed he needed to set the example for the cadets and his own children that service included commitment and sacrifice. He volunteered because he believed that through education and empathy nations could change. Ultimately, the biggest betrayal came when someone he liked and trusted (should have been able to like and trust) assassinated him. I recognize that Phil’s story is bigger than life because of his choices and his death. It is for that commitment, devotion, loyalty, and love of country that I go to events at the White House.

 

I go to pay homage to those who like Phil, give everything defending those rights for the rest of us. The Inaugural Parade was a chance for me to celebrate my country, my life, and the life of my Phil. To walk the streets of Washington DC with my daughter in law who chose our country also, to see our new President, and to stand united as a nation is what it was about for me. My voice is love and devotion to my flag and my citizenship. My voice is for Phil who is the ideal that our country was founded on. I am the flag.

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