Veteran's Day Weekend, Marine Corps Birthday, and One Fading Marine

 Here we are at Veteran's Day Weekend, 2013. As I sit here and reflect on the years that have passed, I wonder what lies ahead for us all? We, who have served our countriy did it with the hope that we would see an end to war.. and end to the killing over scraps of land and ideologies. We served because we though that it was the right thing to do. I did it because I felt, and still feel, that it is the cost of living in a free society. The cost of being able to cast my vote for who would represent me in this process called democracy. The cost for having my voice heard, along with others who think as I do, in a country that is supposed to be the symbol of what a country that allows all people to participate in the political process, is supposed to be. It is a great thing to feel that way. I must admit, I am a bit of an idealist. I believe in letting the results of elections speak for themselves. My guy (or lady) didn't win that time? Oh, well.. I have to go with the results and stand behind the one who did. Next time might be different. No hard feelings towards those who won. That's Democracy. That's what those who joined the military fought and some cases, died for. The right to participate. The right to have differing opinions without consequences. I am proud to have served. I am proud to be an American and a Patriot. I have been called other things. Not too many weeks ago, I was called a 'Warmonger' by someone who has never felt the hot breath of oppression on her neck, who comfortably runs her own business in a country that exists only because so many fought against the horrors that would have snuffed out the right of free will. I forgive that person for being so callous.
  I love this country, with all of my heart and soul. I love her allies, who have stood with us through so much strife. I love my fellow veterans, each and every man and woman, no matter what their race, religion, or political beliefs. They served, as I did, for the greater good. I support their right to believe in whatever they believe in. I also stand up for my right to believe what I believe. For all of us, it is a right that we fought to sustain. It breaks my heart to hear all the name calling and finger pointing. I hate the chest pounding of one group against another. "My beliefs are more patriotic than yours!"  "You are not a real American, because you don't believe as I do". 
 To all of this, I say "Enough!" We served together, fought together, laughed together, and in some cases, died together. We stood up to support an idea that men and women can govern themselves, disagree, and still stand shoulder to shoulder as one strong people. I did not serve so that we could witness the destruction of this country. I did not serve so that one party or another, could run roughshod over the rest of the people. 
 I want this to be a salute to all of the veterans who served. I want it to be a reaffirmation of my love for the entity which I joined so many years ago, My Marine Corps. I want everyone, from here to all points across the globe, to know that I will stand for Democracy until I take my last breath, for this is how I was raised.
 So, on this Sunday, the Marine Corps Birthday, and Monday, Veterans Day, set aside your petty politics. Set aside your religious differences, and embrace those who defend your right to think as you wish, to worship as you wish, and show them that all of their efforts are not in vain. Show them that you support them and the ideals that make them American Heroes.
 Semper Fidelis, and Bless you all.
 John Zaffino, Corporal, USMC 1966 - 1970 and forever.

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