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

Did the testing end at Gettysburg, at Appomattox, Versailles, on the battleship Missouri in Tokyo Bay, at Panmunjom, at Saigon, at the World Trade Center, at Kabul, at Baghdad? At Raleigh? At Cary? At your house? At mine?

"... can this nation or any nation so conceived and so dedicated long endure?"

Imagine starving until you are a skinny bag of bones. Imagine scavenging a garbage dump for scraps of food. Imagine trapping sparrows for a sliver of meat. Imagine stealing a few bites of food intended for a peasant's pig. Imagine trying to divide starvation rations into equal portions while starving men watch every move?

Imagine being crammed together for years in rooms so small that you cannot move without bumping into someone? Imagine wearing the same clothes for months and forgetting what a hot bath feels like. Imagine facing enemy guns every day for 900 days.

Imagine stress like that described by Stephen Vincent Benet in Western Star:

"The idle, human gossip of hot-blooded, quarrelsome men, cooped up together too long through the itching weeks when you get to hate a man for the way he walks or snores at night or dips his hand in the dish, but most of all, because you keep seeing him and cannot help but see him, day after day after day-...."

How could anyone stand it?

The answers range from faith to duty, honor, plain orneriness, no other choice, who knows and so on. Every answer, however, has this common thread:

I endured them just as they endured me through a few good times and lots of bad ones.

"... can this nation or any nation so conceived and so dedicated long endure? "

On your shoulders, on mine, lies the heavy hand of history-a mandate to continuously and lawfully create a united nation out of diversity that is sometimes rich and rewarding but often is willfully ignorant, intolerant selfish and cantankerous. On our roads, in our towns and in our cities, we encounter rage fueled by a me-first get-out-of-my-way mentality. Further complicating our already difficult task are terrorists who kill us in the name of their god and criminals ranging from a Timothy McVeigh and teen-age assassins to top corporate executives who subvert freedom to their own ends.

Indeed there is much to endure and much that can be left to the courts and other authorities. For the remainder, however, we must endure each other in order that ... this nation conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal will long endure.

Please join me:

I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation under god, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

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