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When you see a proud parent sticker, offer thanks
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I drove to Lodi Saturday without having to go through government checkpoints.

I can thank a Marine.

My granddaughter is free to go to school and she’ll be able to vote and enjoy the full rights of all male citizens.

I can thank a soldier.

I pray as I chose.

I can thank an airman.

My neighbors and I can access a wide range of consumer goods thanks to the un-interruption of trade between nations.

I can thank a sailor.

My grandson won’t have to pass a government test to determine what type of career he will be doing for the rest of his life.

I can thank a Marine.

Our lives aren’t controlled by a dictator or a religious fanatic.

I can thank a soldier.

I’m free to criticize the government.

I can thank an airman.

My nephew can own a gun that allows him to pursue his passion of competitive target shooting.

I can thank a sailor.

My sister can enjoy a career just like a man can.

I can thank a Marine.

My cousin has the right not to be treated as a second class citizen because of the color of her skin.

I can thank a soldier.

I can enjoy- or ignore – the work of artists and musician that I chose.

I can thank an airman.

A citizen can chose to not observe Memorial Day, Veterans Day, Armed Forces Day or the Fourth of July just as I can chose to do so.

I can thank a soldier.

The pastor, the activist, the journalist, the teacher – you name the vocation and those who pursue it do so because of those in the military who are in the trenches preserving and securing our freedoms and liberties.

Many of us mistakenly believe that we go to war for a clear cut objective – to protect the flow of oil, to overall throw a murderous and oppressive regime or to defend our borders.

It isn’t as simple as that. What is at stake in virtually all wars today is something that can’t be defined by borders, nations, or even regimes. It is the concept of freedom, liberty and the dignity of human beings.

It would be easy for America – or any other nation – only to go to war to protect their own turf.  Let everyone else fend for themselves – the weak, the oppressed, and the enslaved.

Does this make everything cut dry? No. Does it mean we should go charging into any situation that gross wrongs are being made upon fellow human beings? No.

This is not a perfect world. There is evil but there is also misunderstanding.

Yes, this nation has often watched silently closing our collective eyes to gross atrocities in faraway lands. Was it right that we didn’t try to stop Idi Amin in executing hundreds of thousands in Uganda or Pol Pot regime’s murderous genocide of 2 million people in Cambodia? No. Have we made missteps in the wars that we have been in? Yes.

At the end of the day, though, has the world become a safer place because free nations have dared to stand up to tyranny? The answer to that question is yes.

Compare the last 200 years with the previous 20,000 years.

The lot of the common man and woman has improved a thousand fold when it comes to freedom and liberty.

We take what we have in America way too often for granted.

Wish a Marine dead? One might as well as wish themselves dead. Without men and women willing to put it all on the line there would be no freedom and certainly some gutless twerp wouldn’t be able to drive down a street in Manteca and – after spotting a car with a bumper sticker that says “I’m proud parent of a Marine” – to have the audacity to yell out to the driver that he wished her son gets killed in Iraq.

No citizen solider wants to kill just like no citizen soldier wants to die.

They have a higher calling that perhaps most of us will never understand. It is a calling to improve the lot of mankind. The human condition can not improve if there is not an atmosphere that fosters personal liberty and freedom.

When the day finally comes when we all walk hand-in-hand despite out differences in skin, religious, ethnicity and perspective mankind will be able to look back and thank not the high profile leaders but the men and women who paid for it with their own blood.

Next time you see someone with a sticker that proclaims they are a proud parent of a Marine, a soldier, a sailor or an airman roll down your window, wave to get their attention and offer them your gratitude from the bottom of your free heart and soul.