Generations of Sacrifice

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February 16, 2010 | Comments

I’ve received some interesting, not entirely unexpected, feedback in regard to my most recent post on Patrick Kennedy’s (D-RI) decision not to seek reelection to his seat in the House of Representatives this year.

As we all know, the Kennedy legacy (or mythology) is alive and well, and we are all entitled to our own opinions and interpretations of it. What puzzled, and even saddened me, as I read the feedback opposing the opinion I presented in the February 12th post, was the generalized statement that no family has sacrificed more for this country than the Kennedys.

I’m sorry, but that simply is not true.

The history of the United States is graced with countless families that for generations have sacrificed everything to build, protect and maintain this great nation of ours. From the pioneers who first carved out an existence on the eastern coastal regions of the United States, then moved westward, facing unspeakable hardships to create our notion of “sea to shining sea;” to immigrants who brought to life such wonders of the world as railroads, skyscrapers, tunnels through the Rockies, and their own proud multi-generational dynasties and traditions in the promised land that is America; to slaves that made the ultimate sacrifice to claim freedom for their children; to those military families that for generations have devoted themselves to the protection of our nation and our Constitution….each has demonstrated the extraordinary brand of sacrifice that has for centuries set this country apart from every other nation on earth.

So please don’t insult or belittle these families, some renowned, some not, that have made America what she is and always has been. Most families cannot boast Presidents and Congressmen among their ranks, and, thankfully, most have never experienced political assassination. Yet virtually every family has experienced its own victories and injustice, and, like the Kennedys, its own brand of tragedy, self-made and otherwise. In other words, all have sacrificed, and in a land where all are created equal, all families that have sacrificed for this nation are worthy of honor – even if they don’t have powerful public relations teams and unbridled wealth behind them to tell their stories.

America is the product of these families, some who have been here from the very beginning, others who came later, all lured by the legendary promise of a nation unlike any history has ever witnessed. So go ahead and tell me precisely why a certain individual of a certain family may be deserving of a certain honor, reputation or office (more than merely a name, please) – and I may or may not agree with you. But let us also agree that the heart and soul of this nation are the many, many families who have made this country what she is, families that I believe remain devoted to that same mission today. I remain forever grateful to them, even if I don’t happen to know their names.

Betsy Siino | Comments