Later today I will be posting the final chapter in My Country Tis of Thee, Book 1 in my Sergeant Mike’s Miracle Tour series. When I began the edit process a week ago, I thought that like most of my other works, it would be as simple as running Grammarly, and a couple of small changes here and there. It has not been that easy. Not because the story needed that much work, but because…
I came to question the relevance – not simply of the book, but of war, my writing, and ultimately myself.
This story has never been an easy one to write or read. And Mike certainly never glorifies war or America. That may seem strange in a war fiction/military romance book. But it is the reaction that I have found most common in the soldiers and veterans that I know. Most question – why? Why they were there, why friends died, why any of it.
But this morning as edited the final chapter and came upon the scene where they play “God Bless the USA” for the first time since I heard that song at the tender age of fourteen, I was not ‘proud to be an American.’ It is hard to even type those words. I sit here and wonder – HOW? How did we come to this?
Please understand – this is NOT politics. And if my readers drop, so be it. But there was always a problem with ‘Make America Great Again.’ The problem is – she never was.
The truth is that my country was stolen from brown people. These people who helped the pilgrims to survive paid for it with their lives through genocide and disease. Until they were at the verge of extinction or assimilation. So much of their rich heritage lost forever.
The truth is that the region of my birth, the South, was built on the blood, sweat, and tears of black slaves, stolen from their homeland and families. Women and children raped. Men murdered or worked to death.
‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.’Declaration of Independence
The man who wrote that… Well, I think Will covered that brilliantly in Chapter 1 of Ready to Run – The Blood of Patriots and Tyrants.
I could go on and on. But the truth is…
We have been sold a lie.
Freedom was ever only for the rich. The rest of us have always been enslaved. We have been killed, and killed others – sometimes whole peoples so that a few could reap the riches. Whether that was gold, silver, grain, cattle, oil, or something else. The American dream was never attainable for most of us.
But for all…
I still believe.
Not in America.
Or its bloody history whose roots extend across the sea to a land just as troubled today as it always was. The place I now reside.
Not in its history that has literally as well as figuratively been ‘white washed.’
There is so much blood and pain. But we have lied to ourselves long enough – there always has been.
No, what I still believe in, though sometimes only by a hair-thin sliver, is those ideals of HOPE that sentence portends. It just needs to be edited a bit… All Creatures are created equal.
I want to believe that we can get there peacefully. When I think of ballots, I am reminded of the words:
All voting is a sort of gaming, like checkers or back gammon, with a slight moral tinge to it, a playing with right and wrong, with moral questions; and betting naturally accompanies it. The character of the voters is not staked. I cast my vote, perchance, as I think right; but I am not vitally concerned that that right should prevail. I am willing to leave it to the majority. Its obligation, therefore, never exceeds that of expediency. Even voting for the right is doing nothing for it. It is only expressing to men feebly your desire that it should prevail. A wise man will not leave the right to the mercy of chance, nor wish it to prevail through the power of the majority.Civil Disobedience – Henry David Thoreau
That was written over one-hundred-seventy years ago, but it is even more true today.
What is to come then?
I don’t know. But as the X-Men say, I’m afraid. Not simply for my three sons that are scattered around America, but for my three children in the UK, my friends in both countries, and the whole world.
If you’re wondering where the next chapter is…
I began a rather sexy one in Love in the First Degree. It is almost finished, in fact. But I just couldn’t focus on the sex. And that is saying something. So, instead, I have turned to writing the one after that, another with Reb and Stacey, that matches this mood a bit more.
I wrote these words in the Forward to My Country Tis of Thee. I intended them for veterans such as Sergeant Mike who struggle with PTSD.
If these stories cause one person to stop and speak a kind word to one of our homeless vets, that is all I could want. If one friend asks their returning buddy ‘How are you, really?’ that is all I could hope.
These days I fear that we have all become unwitting soldiers in a millennia long war between the forces of light and greed, hubris, and evil. I realize that I may be struggling with a bit of PTSD right now myself. That is made worse by being so far from Ground Zero of this war. My thoughts and prayers are with all of you who are.
There is not much I can do from here, at least not now, other than continue to write the truth. But on other thing, I can do is ask…
How are you, really?
Goddess bless, sustain, protect, and keep us every one,