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Odell Myers, Pilot
438 Squadron, 319th Medium Bombardment Group
12th USAAF

About 165 years ago in North Carolina and neighboring states, the United States of America deported approximately 16,000 Cherokees from their homeland to what now is Oklahoma. En route on what they aptly called the Trail of Tears, some 4000 men, women and children died. I intentionally mentioned my Cherokee ancestors lest we forget that our European ancestors wrested this lovely land on their own terms from native Americans who had lived here for hundreds, perhaps thousands, of years.

Home is where the heart is! In every tongue, history praises those who have sacrificed their lives to protect and preserve their homes. History also records that no clan, no tribe, no nation has ever been tolerant, at least initially, of anyone who thought and acted otherwise.

Although patriotism usually includes territorial loyalty, it obviously has dimensions beyond geography! Both are extolled in one of our familiar songs:

O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea.

What is that next to the last line? Something about brotherhood? On any scale, brotherhood is a dimension beyond geography! For us, it is rooted in the novel and daring words at the beginning and the end of the Declaration of Independence:

When in the course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

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.-That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed...

Let's skip the long list of grievances and read the last line:

... for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

According to King George and the British government, the patriots who signed that historic document were traitors who deserved hanging by the neck until they were dead! Nevertheless, they signed their names to bold daring words! Words more easily uttered than realized in the structure of the new nation. Followed after the war, therefore, by the United States Constitution and the Bill of Rights that began defining and limiting-yes, limiting-the freedom newly claimed:

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