The darkness of the forest shielded me from the day’s intense heat. The serene quiet assured me this was holy ground as these Vosges Mountains, located in the French Colmar Pocket, witnessed one of the fiercest battles of World War II. As our guide related the story of Audie Murphy’s one man stand, my memory barely flickered at the mention of the event. In January of 1945, this young American soldier held off the enemy, alone. He sent his men to a safer distance while he fought off enemy tanks and infantry. With his field phone in hand and a .50 caliber machine gun, Murphy stood on a flaming tank and began his “one man stand.” This story clearly demonstrated Murphy’s bravery, love of his men and a determination to win back a territory long held under enemy suppression. As I stood in the solace, it reminded me of an emotion which is under attack and held hostage by those who cannot understand its importance: patriotism. My own patriotic feelings buried by those who would shame me for loving my country and the brave who fought for her.
A light breeze moved the leaves ever so slightly as the guide finished Audie Murphy’s story. One lone beam of sunlight found its way through the arches of the tall pines. As the final segment to this tour, the guide recited the Veteran’s Prayer. Words like “sacrifice, love, honor” drifted in the air. No one dare move so as not to disturb this incredible moment of memorializing those who willingly gave their lives. And then it happened. A distant church bell slowly tolled as if to pay its own homage to the moment of solemnity. There were audible sounds of suppressed sobs. This band of tourists, who knew nothing of each other’s stories, came together for one moment: to honor the patriotic efforts of an American, Audie Murphy.
Why did I chose to write about this on a teaching blog? Our schools are rewriting and omitting “politically incorrect” history. Statues and murals of our founding fathers, flawed as they were, are destroyed in the name of 21st Century Correctness. Our children are experiencing apologetics for our nation instead of unconditional love for our country. On sporting fields, the National Anthem is highjacked for political purposes of souring our children on the very country which insures their freedom.
The tour guide left us with these final words: thank you America for freeing us from the Nazi’s and the evil which prevailed in our villages and cities. Her voice broke as she welled up with tears. She continued, “We will always be grateful for the sacrifice you made to save our country.” My one wish, at that moment, was all children could witness the admiration for our country professed by this French guide . Our country is doomed for failure if patriotism can only be found after a 9/11 event or on July 4th. We need to assure accurate portrayals of history so our children understand this country never intended to bathe in a false light of superiority. While we are far from perfection, it is our imperfection which hones us to become better citizens. Upholding the tenants of liberty through our varied history is patriotic and must be forwarded to the next generations. Teachers are the future guides. The stories of America’s plight for freedom, through the actions of the brave, must never be forgotten.