08.22.2013 0

Finding courage back home

By Rick Manning

D.C. politicians will likely be criticized for taking this August recess to meet with constituents rather than staying at the Capitol and “working.”

When they get back, they will have very few session days to deal with a number of issues, most prominently funding the government for next year.

Before jumping on the bandwagon of criticism, one should consider that getting those members outside the Beltway for a few days may have been exactly what they needed – a reconnection with the small towns and people who make up much of this nation.

Small towns all have their own political battles, but at least in one small town on the western shore of Maryland, all those fights and battles got set aside for one precious morning.

America’s heroes were coming to town.

Buses were scheduled to arrive in the early morning filled with wounded warriors from Walter Reid Medical Center for an annual event where they board charter fishing boats and get to experience the sun and breeze of the Chesapeake Bay as well as the thrill of reeling in a rockfish.

As the heroes enter town, they are greeted with a view of the Bay with a very large American flag flying high at the end of the road overlooking the contrasting blues of the water and sky.  Overpasses heading into town featured firetruck’s ladders extended, sporting flags honoring the mostly men who sacrificed limbs, their bodies and in some cases, minds to fight an enemy that much of America has grown weary of.

But not on this day, as the streets are lined with well wishers saying thank you, waving small flags and cheering.  The creek which houses the marina is lined by even more every day American’s who have come out to say thank you to these young men.  Not because they know them, or ever expect to see them again, but because they are Americans.

There are no political speeches, just the people coming together in the morning chill to honor a few of our nation’s finest.

Some men mingle with the crowd prior to entering the fishing boats, others are almost sheepish about the applause.  They were doing their jobs, protecting our nation’s freedoms and seem almost stunned that others would consider them to be heroes.  Many would tell you that the heroes are their friends  who didn’t make it back alive, not them.

Many years ago, a man I was helping get elected to a position had been awarded a silver star for his actions in the Pacific Theatre in World War II snapped at me when I kept insisting that he speak about his war record saying, “I was just lucky, not a hero. The beaches were filled with the real heroes. I wiIl not dishonor them by using their deaths to my advantage.”  And with that, we never mentioned it again.

But America cannot say thank you to those who have fallen, so we say it instead to those who will be living with injuries suffered at the behest of their country in places that they probably couldn’t have found on the map just a few short months prior to being shipped out.

Across the nation, small towns are similarly greeting these heroes who have sacrificed so much.

Yes, it is good that members of Congress go home to reconnect with their constituents, and are reminded who they work for, and who the real heroes are in this nation.  It can be hoped that when they return to D.C., they are inspired to face our nation’s challenges with a renewed courage, strength and commitment to the limited government ideals that founded and have sustained it for the past 225 years.

If not, we can be assured that a new generation worthy of being elected will emerge from these returning warriors.  Perhaps some of them even went on a fishing trip on the Chesapeake Bay on a sunny day in August 2013 finding their post-war calling in the clapping and smile of a flag waving child?

Rick Manning (@rmanning957) is the Vice President of Public Policy and Communications for Americans for Limited Government.

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