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The 2016 Election: A Call for Respect

Soldier Celebrating Victory Running with Large American Flag. Trooper with the Flag.

By Ava Jacobs:

As I was folding laundry and doing dishes, I was thinking about the pros and cons of each candidate in the election this year. I was thinking about how I wanted to express my thoughts and feelings on each candidate, but then I realized for my family it is not just about the voting record or business experiences or even their espoused platforms.  This election more than ever is about respect. Oxford Dictionaries defines respect as “a feeling of deep admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements”. Sadly, for nearly a decade respect for this country and the men and women that serve to preserve freedoms and protect its way of life have significantly deteriorated.

Since meeting my husband over five years ago, I have witnessed a major shift in not only the government’s view of those who serve, but how Americans view them as well. My husband, a former airman, and contractor has faithfully served his country for over fifteen years. His respect, servitude, and love for this country and its people is unwavering, but I cannot say we have felt the same in return. Images of Blackwater conjure extremely unfavorable opinions of contractors, which is unfortunate because the majority of contractors I personally know are former or retired military and want nothing more but to serve their country honorably. This country, our country, is always in the hot seat and they are expected to save the day during genocide, nuclear threats, and terrorism, yet are despised for over stepping bounds when we go in and attempt to perform our role as a world power.

All the hot topics today, including Benghazi, ISIS, Libya, Russia, Iran, or even kneeling rather than standing in the presence of our national anthem and flag, have made me feel less safe at home, for my husband overseas, and for our children’s futures. The pullout of Afghanistan terrified me for not only my husband, but the small remaining military forces there and their families at home. When ISIS emerged I told my husband “please, anywhere but Africa or Iraq.” And even before ISIS, Benghazi made me realize, decisions in the most recent past by the elected officials in our country have not been about feeling respect, admiration, love, or even solidarity towards those that put their lives on the line so we can live a life void of war at our front doors. Decisions have been made for selfish reasons and reasons which have continuously broken our country apart, not brought us together.

I respect the presidency, but it has been very hard to respect the decisions made, which have made this country less safe and made me wonder much more frequently about what I would do if my husband were killed in the line of duty. Not simply because he would be gone, but because I feel I would have to do a very diligent job in teaching our boys about the amazing role their father had in making this country better especially since I do not believe the current government or much of the people within our country will help me to make my point to them. I wonder how I would describe my husband to them so they never once felt the disrespect, disdain, and often disregard our country has shown men and women in service. How would I shield them? All of my thoughts and answers circled back to respect. I would teach my boys respect, I would teach them that in John 1:5 “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” I would teach them to respect everyone and most importantly respect themselves for that is where it begins, that is their father’s legacy. I would teach them to respect the American way of life and always strive to serve this country whether in public or private and to create expectations of others and set high standards for this country for she is great and can achieve more than most can imagine. And finally I would teach my children to understand democracy and elect people to represent our country with the upmost honor for this land and its people.

As a former American History teacher, with a degree in History and a husband who loves and serves this country with every fiber of his being, I agree with the first president of the United States, a commander in the Continental Army, and a true American patriot. I whole heartedly believe he had it correct when he stated the following in his farewell address:

“However [political parties] may now and then answer popular ends, they are likely in the course of time and things, to become potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people and to usurp for themselves the reins of government, destroying afterwards the very engines which have lifted them to unjust dominion.”

This election more than any other, I believe political parties need to be called on what they really are, a disruptive force used not in order to bring Americans together, but to divide us. Is there a single person that believes either the democratic or republican party represents exactly who they are or what they want for this country? I do not think they are doing the American people a service and I certainly have felt this way for the last eight years. I hope and I pray that we find someone in my lifetime that gives this beautiful country the respect and admiration she deserves, celebrating her magnificence, not apologizing for her faults, but rather taking action in making them better. I pray for a country where my children can see a generation praised for defending Lady Liberty and all the beauty she brings to this world.

Ava Jacobs is an OpsLens Contributor and the spouse of a U.S. Air Force Veteran and former CIA counterterrorism official.

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