“Freedom is a fragile thing and is never more than one generation away from extinction. It is not ours by inheritance; it must be fought for and defended constantly by each generation, for it comes only once to a people. Those who have known freedom and then lost it have never known it again.” ~Ronald Reagan

What keeps me up at night isn’t the stress of running a couple of businesses. Providing for my family.  Paying the bills.  Finding work/life balance.

What keeps me awake at night is this quote from Ronald Reagan.  It’s an all too often forgotten message that everything we have is built on the backs of those who sacrificed more than we’ll ever know for us to be able to have it.

I’ve watched friends come back from Iraq and Afghanistan wounded, both physically and emotionally.  But I’ve seen that damage compounded as they look out at a country sharply divided… a country they barely recognize anymore.

I have other friends who have been riddled with bullets while holding the Thin Blue Line here at home.  They’ve faced attack after attack only to suffer bureaucratic assaults that are even more vicious… from the men and women who were elected to support them, and then stabbed them in the back.

And what’s terrifying about that is just how much it’s dividing our country.

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We see polar opposites – those who are battled hardened … and those who are soft and need safe spaces.  Those who will fight and die for their country and not think twice about the cost… and those whose biggest battle in life will be a picket for $15 an hour minimum wage to make soy lattes.  Those who teach their children to be patriots… and those who teach their children to be pushovers.

I can’t tell you how many buddies I have in law enforcement who are Field Training Officers – many of whom are millennials – who complain about a generation that’s been through anti-bullying programs galore, but has never been punched in the face.  

They’ve been taught that bullies don’t exist… and not what to do when you really encounter them.  This is a problem.

My good friend Eli Crane, former Navy SEAL Sniper and CEO of Bottle Breacher, put it best:

“Hard times create strong men.  Strong men create good times.  Good times create weak men.  Weak men create hard times.”

So how exactly did we get to this horrific place in society? 

Not long ago, I gave a keynote speech in front of 2,000 high school students about patriotism in America. And while I was on stage, it hit me.

They have no memory of the 9/11 terror attacks.

psychologically prepared

I suppose in some ways it’s a good thing.  After all, so many of us will never forget the images on live television watching those planes crash into the towers.

But in other ways … it’s scary.  Scary that it seems that so many Americans who DID live through it have already forgotten it.

When those towers were hit, class wasn’t dismissed.  You know what happened?  We had difficult conversations in school.  We experienced history – as painful as it was.  That experience was a crucial part of our development as Americans.

Now?  We have a President elected by the AMERICAN PEOPLE and schools are dismissed and college classes cancelled so students can find a safe space.

The day after those terror attacks, American flags were waving everywhere.

Now?  People talk about the American flag as being a sign of oppression and take a knee as a sign of disrespect during the National Anthem.

In the weeks and months following those terror attacks, people thanked police officers for their service to the communities.

Now?  They are convicted in the court of public opinion of crimes that include just being a cop.

I’m blessed to have many friends who rushed off to serve our country.  Take, for example, my friend Carl.  Carl gave up a full ride to a prestigious university because he wanted to fight for his country.  His sense of patriotism drove him to be a NAVY SEAL.

Now?  Our veterans can’t even get basic health care because our elected politicians have their heads so far up their butts that they are frozen in their “resist” movement.

We have become painfully polarized.  We’ve split apart our longest lasting friendships.  We’ve become hateful of our neighbors and our coworkers.  We’ve destroyed our own families.  Why?  Because we have a generation of keyboard warriors.

And it’s not just the millennials and younger.  It’s all generations.  When you run your mouth face to face with someone, you end up suffering very different consequences than you do online.

There’s a glimmer of hope.  We’ve seen The Silent Majority coming out of the woodwork.  Helping fellow Americans in the aftermath of these hurricanes – just like they always do.  Silently pushing forward.  Silently supporting.  Expressing their patriotism in the quietest and most humble of ways.

After the El Paso shooting, there was a line of people who waited in the heat for more than an hour to give blood.

There were strangers who helped each other physically and spiritually.

There was an entire army of warriors in this family at Law Enforcement Today praying.

But while they fight for the America I know still exists … there are others who wish to see that very America destroyed.

We see ANTIFA and BLM rallies that are focused on destruction … and not on unity.  They wear their masks and bring violence to our streets.  The enemy isn’t just hijacking planes.  The enemy is also within.

They are the very fascists that they declare they fight against.  They portray themselves as the strong millennials… the freedom fighters.

They are not.

The freedom fighters were my friends who dropped out of college after 9/11 to join the military and actually fight.  They are those who know war and blood and pain and anguish and sacrifice.

They aren’t the entitled millennials… they are the ones protecting the ability of them to march in the streets and call for violence and Civil War.

Let’s pray that we can bring our country back together again, lest it comes to this:

“It is not ours by inheritance; it must be fought for and defended constantly by each generation, for it comes only once to a people.”

Never ask for a war you aren’t able to fight.  ESPECIALLY when facing a battle-hardened warrior with such a deep love of country that they’ve already been willing to sacrifice everything for it once before… and will do so again.

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