The unmistakable sound of Queen’s quintessential anthem, “Another One Bites the Dust” lured me outside on a beautiful Monday morning in paradise. I crossed through the damp grass, slid past the blooming fuchsia hedge, and followed the pounding beat toward Pearl Harbor. Soon, the unmistakable colors of Old Glory came into view, swirling in the sun-soaked Hawaiian sky and hovering high above the deck of a Naval vessel. I walked to the water’s edge and waited for the grey behemoth to emerge. By now, the music had segued into Thin Lizzy and “The Boys are Back in Town,” and before long, the USS William P. Lawrence came into full view—gliding through the water proudly and purposely. It was Homeward Bound!
The crew, clad in trademark white, lined the length of the guided-missile destroyer. The sight made my heart swell and the tears flow.
For these patriots and the loved ones awaiting their return, this journey through the canal marked the final stretch of a deployment that would end with the most heartwarming of all military milestones —homecoming.
This reunion, like countless others, would likely be characterized by tears, long-awaited hugs and kisses, immeasurable pride, enormous relief, and unimaginable joy.
I watched and waved, filled with genuine happiness for these strangers and their families—an excitement borne from the kinship of a fellow sojourner and nomad who has walked in their shoes a time or two.
This brief diversion was a welcome reprieve from the chaos and discouragement of current events weighing heavy on my heart.
Sadly, America—the Shining City on the Hill—has lost a little of its sheen. It’s been scuffed up by bitter divisions, swirling animosity, fringe factions of evil, toxic partisanship and disrespect.
It’s disheveled, fractured, imperfect, and filled simultaneously with heroes and villains
the righteous and corrupt,
the unifiers and agitators,
the selfless and selfish,
the faithless and faithful,
the far left and the far right,
And an abundance of people in the center of these extremes who embrace firmly held values and moral convictions that are, all too often, ridiculed and maligned by those with opposing viewpoints.
In our pledge we claim
-but clearly we’re still a work in progress.
As I watched the ship pass by, I couldn’t help but think that the men and women on board represent the best of America, and the finest values of our Republic.
No matter the domestic turmoil, the political chaos, or the charged rhetoric, our proudly diverse military is single-minded in its mission to protect and defend America—when it’s good,
when it’s bad, and
when it’s ugly.
Unfailingly, unceasingly, and with uncommon courage, they preserve our freedom, they safeguard our liberty, they protect our precious rights — even when we forget who we are and what we stand for.
Our brave service members put their lives on the line because the foundational principles of our independence— religious freedom, equality, diversity of thought and speech, and the inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness—are worth fighting for.
They are worth dying for.
And many have.
So, even in the midst of our national turmoil, I will not despise nor ridicule our flag, nor the land it represents. I will keep believing in the dreams of our forefathers; the promises of our Heavenly Father; the beauty and blessing of American citizenship; and the hope for a future where our land is bright “with freedom’s holy light.”
And I will never cease to thank God for those who don our nation’s uniform. They stand shoulder to shoulder, from sea to shining sea, as vanguards, sentinels, wingmen, and battle buddies protecting and defending this flawed but glorious land that I love.