Will Americans wake up and answer the call?

Published 7:38 am Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Recently, I had a cup of coffee with Eldon Schmidt. He had just returned from the veterans’ memorial flight to Washington, D.C. I asked him how long he had served in the Navy during World War II and he said three years.

I began to think of other friends who had answered the call to serve their country. There was Ted Gill, a crew member on a B-17 who flew 25 missions over Germany; Paul Kepple, a Navy fighter pilot; Art Ludtke, a gunner’s mate on a troop transport; Paul Overgaard, an airborne infantry soldier during the Korean War, and many others who served their country in times of conflict. There were more than 120 soldiers, sailors and Marines from Freeborn County who paid the ultimate price and never came back from World War II. It was a terrific price that the young people of our nation paid during the ’40s, ’50s and ’60s with more than 450,000 killed in World War II and over 100,000 during the Korean and Vietnam wars.

The ’40s, ’50s and ’60s was a time of great unrest in the world and millions of Americans answered their country’s call and left home for two, three and four years, never seeing their families and loved ones during that time. No wonder they are called America’s Greatest Generation.

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Today, we are again in another major conflict, but our country is not calling on people to serve. This war is being fought by a voluntary Army and their sacrifice for us is great. The rest of us are staying at home and not being asked to serve.

In part, we hardly know a war is going on. We are all concerned about the car we drive, the house we have, our children’s education and the sports they play and how much money we can make. Every Saturday and Sunday we worry more about how the Gophers and Vikings played than we are about how our city, county, state or country are doing. We all just assume that things are OK even though Republicans and Democrats may be spending us into bankruptcy and possibly bringing about the downfall of this great country.

Do we want this to happen or will we wake up and answer the call to serve? Many say I’m too old or too busy, but I ask then, who will be making the decisions that will be affecting the future of our children and grandchildren? You can serve. You can give up just a little bit of your time and get involved. You may ask how to do that and it is very easy:

1. Get information and find out the facts.

2. Become active in a political party that best fits your philosophy and beliefs. Ask a Democrat or a Republican what they believe in.

3. Work for the candidates who run for office. They always need your help.

4. If you have the talent, run for office. Both parties are looking for people who will serve the city, county or school board.

5. Both parties want the best talent to run for the state Legislature or for Congress. You just may be the person they are looking for.

The decisions made by these people have a long-term effect on our country’s future. With current debt and obligations of our country exceeding $100 trillion and our state running a deficit in excess of $5 billion, we know there are problems and you can help solve them.

You will not be asked to leave home for two, three, four or five years like past generations have been asked to do, but by answering the call to serve, you can have a big impact on our state or country’s future.

What did John Kennedy say in that famous speech? “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.”

If you have the desire, you can make a difference.

Al Arends is a co-chairman of the Freeborn County Republican Party.