jQuery Image RotatorjQuery Image RotatorjQuery Image RotatorjQuery Image RotatorjQuery Image RotatorjQuery Image RotatorjQuery Image RotatorjQuery Image RotatorjQuery Image RotatorjQuery Image RotatorjQuery Image RotatorjQuery Image RotatorjQuery Image RotatorjQuery Image RotatorjQuery Image RotatorjQuery Image RotatorjQuery Image RotatorjQuery Image RotatorjQuery Image RotatorjQuery Image RotatorjQuery Image RotatorjQuery Image RotatorjQuery Image RotatorjQuery Image RotatorjQuery Image RotatorjQuery Image RotatorjQuery Image RotatorjQuery Image RotatorjQuery Image RotatorjQuery Image RotatorjQuery Image RotatorjQuery Image RotatorjQuery Image RotatorjQuery Image RotatorjQuery Image RotatorjQuery Image RotatorjQuery Image RotatorjQuery Image RotatorjQuery Image RotatorjQuery Image RotatorjQuery Image RotatorjQuery Image RotatorjQuery Image RotatorjQuery Image RotatorjQuery Image RotatorjQuery Image RotatorjQuery Image RotatorjQuery Image RotatorjQuery Image RotatorjQuery Image RotatorjQuery Image RotatorjQuery Image RotatorjQuery Image RotatorjQuery Image RotatorjQuery Image RotatorjQuery Image RotatorjQuery Image RotatorjQuery Image RotatorjQuery Image RotatorjQuery Image RotatorjQuery Image RotatorjQuery Image RotatorjQuery Image RotatorjQuery Image RotatorjQuery Image RotatorjQuery Image RotatorjQuery Image RotatorjQuery Image RotatorjQuery Image RotatorjQuery Image RotatorjQuery Image RotatorjQuery Image RotatorjQuery Image RotatorjQuery Image RotatorjQuery Image RotatorjQuery Image Rotator
What does it mean to be an American?

The following speech was given to a joint meeting of the Wakulla Shrine Club, Ashmore Masonic Lodge in Sopchoppy and Crawford Masonic Lodge in Crawfordville on Friday, June 14. The speech honors Flag Day and the Fourth of July.

By Charlie Creel
Sheriff, Wakulla County

Many times over the years we have heard someone ask the question: What does it mean to be an American? We probably don’t think about the answer as often as we should but I will attempt to answer the question for you tonight through my eyes.

Many Americans have given their lives for the privileges we enjoy as American citizens. Our nation has fought hard and paid a very high price over the years to maintain the benefits of being Americans that we enjoy today.
I have my own personal experience that helps me relate to being a proud American. My father helped fight tyranny in the 1940s as a member of our military. He was asked to take part in the Battle of Normandy where scores of brave military men knew there was a good chance that they would not be coming back from Europe after being asked to fight Germans on the French beaches.

Many brave Americans died on the beaches as they fought bravely for their country. Many more men and women have paid the ultimate sacrifice in other conflicts as well.

My father waited until I was a teenager until her told me a little about his Normandy experience. He would never go into details about what he saw on the beaches and what he was forced to witness.
Back at that time you knew you had only three ways to get out of the war; either the war ended, you got injured or you were killed. He would never speak about it. But he fought everywhere, all over Europe and in Africa.

It was a difficult time for those at war and those at home. But as Americans it was what we were asked to do and we did it willingly.
As Americans we sometimes forget just how fortunate we are to live in one the finest countries in the world. We may get angry and bitter about issues that divide us, but we always seem to come together as an American family whenever disasters or threats to our nation threaten our well being.

We love our nation because there is room in our hearts to love other places and countries and help them whenever needed. We live in this country because we believe in our hearts that America is good and exceptional. America is different from other countries across the world and we know that we have a special role in the world.
As Americans we feel like it is part of our fabric to help other countries and fight what we perceive as injustice.

President John Kennedy reminded us that “civility is not a sign of weakness and sincerity is always subject to proof. Let us never negotiate out of fear. But never fear to negotiate.”

President Abraham Lincoln governed at a time of great strife within our country but he understood where we needed to go.
To quote Lincoln, “With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and a lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.”

No other country is as exceptional as the United States of America. Americans have hope and opportunity that others do not.
We should be proud of our country and the role it has played in shaping the history of the world. We should be proud of our troops and the sacrifices they have made and the enormous resources that were expended in Europe after World War II. It was American leadership that led to the alliance that was formed that allowed Europe to become more unified after a decade of tyranny.

As Americans we should be proud of the enormous economic power we have and the military strength that allows the world to live in a certain degree of peace. We have core values that are in our Constitution, our body of laws, our democratic practices and our belief in free speech and equality that make us imperfect at times but still exceptional and proud.

As Americans we do not allow our government to exploit the people of our country, but make sure we help those who need assistance. We have a care for our neighbors, both near and far, which makes us exceptional. When you also consider that we have been able to keep our American vision alive for centuries is not only a testament to the wise men who crafted our government and our nation but also an amazing achievement of longevity. Other governments come and go but the United States has remained in much the same form that our forefathers perceived in the 1770s.

We are a melting pot of culture that has been mixed into a large bowl to create a mixture of talents and knowledge that keeps our country strong. As Americans we are entitled to certain rights and the belief of equality.
We have the right to cast our vote in every election and have a say in who governs at the federal, state and local levels. Our country is temporarily ruled by representatives of the people and elected by them. The rights of minorities are guaranteed by law and are not subject to being voted away by the majority.

As a resident of Florida and a citizen of the United States, I was born here and understand the culture and values of American exceptionalism that is deeply ingrained in our psyches and hearts.
As the Sheriff of Wakulla County, I have taken an oath where I have been sworn to protect and defend the U.S. Constitution. It is our constitution that is intended to protect American citizens from government.
Being an American is far more than the citizenship listed on a birth certificate or Passport. It is far more nuanced and complicated than a simple denotation on a state-issued document. It is a way of living believing and even dreaming.

Republicans and Democrats may battle for their ideologies to be adopted in Washington, D.C. but the bottom line is that these political parties have the same goals for their America. Although their ideologies differ, they both embrace and represent America.

America’s beauty lies in its multitude of differences and complexity and our military has fought for centuries to uphold these differences as one nation.
It is the freedom that we enjoy in our country that makes it possible for America’s oneness to encompass and protect the many.

Benjamin Franklin may be the epitome of an American. He pioneered the spirit of self-help and with little schooling he taught himself many things he needed in life.
He was a printer, newspaper editor and magazine publisher. He helped launch the first police force in Philadelphia along with the first volunteer fire company, the first fire insurance firm, the first hospital, the first public library and the first institution of higher learning that became the University of Pennsylvania.

He also served as Postmaster and tripled the frequency of the mail delivery. He was a scientist, inventor and a diplomat.
It was Franklin’s can-do spirit that captured the imagination of the nation at the time. His inspiration led to advances by American scientists in the years that followed and inspired the United States of America into becoming known as the greatest nation on earth.

And that is what it means to me to be an American!

 

WCSO on Facebook button

 

 

 

 

 

WCSO Firing Range

 

 

 

Know Your Zone