The Daily Commercial-Mary Sharpe: Our patriotic responsibility

Mary Sharpe Guest Columnist
This year we celebrate Independence Day as a humbled nation. Our flag has been lowered to half staff so frequently that it seems to belong there as if bowing its head in surrender to the gun violence that is becoming all too common across our great land. Our freedoms are under assault.

What makes us good also makes us bad. We are free, but interpretations of those freedoms seem to be a very blurred line. Some extreme views are infringing on the rights of others to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” Sometimes our freedoms go too far.

Our freedom of speech has nearly destroyed us because some have abused the privilege. Lying has now become an American sport, and our politicians and Supreme Court nominees seem to be participating at Olympic levels. We mistakenly believed that Roe v Wade was settled law, having been assured of such during recent Senate confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominees Amy Coney Barrett, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh. Is lying to Congress still a crime? If so, these nominees, now sitting Supreme Court justices, have just set a terrible example for the rest of the country. The Supreme Court, once a position of honor, is now tainted.

Our right to bear arms is being abused. The Second Amendment reads, “A well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” Gun enthusiasts only seem to understand the last four words, but it is the first three that we need to comprehend: “A well-regulated …” We already have regulations on weapons in this country. We are not allowed to own a nuclear bomb or a howitzer. We only sensibly want to move assault weapons over into the “can’t have” column.

Seemingly oblivious to the flood of violence in this country, an increasing number of candidates running for office are airing ads with a gun strapped to their chest. We have enough violence in this country, as the position of our bowing flag would attest. Do we really need it in Congress? After the Jan. 6 riot in our Capitol, that answer is a resounding no! And we certainly don’t need candidates for office promoting more violence. It’s incredible how they fight for the life of the unborn child so passionately and then promote violence and death by saying that everyone should carry an AR15. They claim to be protecting freedom and liberties while taking away as many as they can. We have quickly gone from free American citizens to victims of abuse by our politicians.

Because of public outrage, Congress quickly passed legislation to try to stem the flood of mass murders. This time doing nothing was not an option, because that’s what those “good guys with guns” did in the hallway of Robb Elementary School in Texas. Does a good guy ever win when they are outgunned?

Our elections are no longer “free and fair,” having been verbally assaulted as corrupt by the losers who can’t win if our elections remain free and fair.

As we try once again to celebrate our freedoms, even as our elected leaders are chipping away at them, and lift our flag out of mourning, I felt the need to quote a column that I wrote years ago on the Fourth of July. The column was about patriotism and our obligations as citizens, and it bears repeating. It is a weighty responsibility, this patriotism.

With the Jan. 6 hearings airing the details about the messy end of the Trump presidency, it turns out that we do, indeed, have patriotic heroes left in our country. But, we are still left wondering, just how far did this betrayal of our country and our flag go?

Our ancestors fought for our freedoms. And that fight continues today. They had a flame of patriotism burning so brightly in their hearts that I can nearly feel the heat and stand back in awe. They lit a candle that became a torch. They have passed that flame of freedom down through the hands of generations of Americans and finally to mine. How can the winds of freedom blow so strongly and not extinguish the flame? We must protect it, you and I, for we are the keepers of the flame.


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