By Bill Williams

Patriotism — is this term valued, or is it just a word that is used with no real meaning?

I answered the call to be patriotic back in the early ’50s and joined the U.S. Navy for four years. I worked hard to learn how to be a good sailor and help my shipmates man the ships I served on. The Navy sent me to sonar school to learn how to maintain the equipment and to detect submarines of our enemies. These few months were some of the best months of my life and Key West remains among my fondest memories of my Navy life. We visited Key West on Carnival cruises and to my amazement; we could not find one person who remembers the sonar school being there!

I thought I would make a career of the Navy and worked and studied hard to advance in my ratings. Mission accomplished: I earned a rating of SO1 in just a little over three years.

Family needs changed my mind after about 3½ years of service. My brother was farming in Colorado and asked me to come live with them and assist them on the farm as a partner. When the captain asked me on inspection day if I was going to re-enlist, my answer was to ask for an early release to go and help my family on the farm. The captain granted my request and that ended my Navy career.

But this life quickly changed because Republican President Eisenhower signed into law the Soil Bank program, which paid landowners to take their land out of productivity and to lay idle. Part of our farming consisted of rental property. The owners had retired and moved into town or to the beaches. The government would pay them a set amount each year to set aside their land and not gamble on a crop each year. I could not blame them for this because they wanted sure-fire life support. But this ended my life as a farmer.

I said all that to say this: I call myself an American patriot in all things as a citizen of America. I served in our Armed Services. We pay our taxes willfully and on time. When I was self-employed, the quarterly tax payments (income, Social Security and Medicare) were sometimes difficult to make. But we always managed to be on time with these payments. Voting was not an option with our family, even though we may have had to stand in long lines to cast our vote; this was something we must do, just like paying taxes.

Our elected president doesn’t seem to have a clue as to the meaning of patriotism in any form or fashion of the word. Tear-gassing citizens so that he can pose in front of a church with the Bible upheld is not patriotism. Calling our service men and women losers is not patriotism. Refusing to pay taxes, which support our men and women in uniform, is not patriotism. Refusing to defend our country against enemies is not patriotism. Refusing to defend our service people as commander in chief is not being a patriot. Refusing to pay taxes that help maintain and build new roads, bridges and airports is not patriotism. Demeaning immigrants who helped populate and build our great America is not patriotism.

We have a lot of people who serve as facilitators for this president and consider his actions a joke or just glib utterances that have no meaning. Facts are not negotiable, and in this day of instant communications we can learn quickly what is truth or fiction. Why is an unborn fetus more important than 200,000 COVID-19 deaths? The anti-abortionists are silent when it comes to these deaths and treat them as a natural occurrence.

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Bill Williams lives in Palmview.