Sweet land of liberty….. (or land of the gullible?)

Glenn Beck had guests on his show who talked about a new gated community they’re putting together called The Citadel.  Through a careful, highly selective application process they hope to find people united by their belief in patriotism, liberty, pride in American exceptionalism and preparedness.   This community will require everyone to be self-supporting and these organizers, about as efficiently as the central planners in the old USSR, decided to start a firearms manufacturing factory as a means for the first wave of it’s “pioneers” to support themselves.  Guess, they miss the humor in a community touting “liberty” as it’s keystone, building a community with central planners setting up all the rules to become part of the neighborhood, to include what you must believe.

So far, this new community exists only on a webpage and the developers don’t even own the real land to build this oasis of liberty.  Not to worry about this being a ponzi scheme, they assure you this beacon of liberty will be located somewhere in Idaho, where they’ve thus far acquired  land for the weapons factory.  Don’t worry that one of the developers has a criminal record for extortion, which he explained away as his being naive about speaking out.  Not to worry that if you fill out the application (with it’s $33 application fee) and if you  make it through the Skype interview as a worthy new neighbor for the Citadel community, you must begin paying $50 per month to help secure enough money for these developers  to actually buy real property to build this proposed community.

What would living be, where liberty reigns supreme, without the central planners specifying, “All homes will be built of poured concrete for exceptional strength and durability” (even the Three Little Pigs had more freedom).  Rest assured, you will be free to build your home to whatever specifications you choose.  You’ve also got to be part of the community militia and own a firearm to be able to defend the community.  So, you’ll be providing business for the community factory, as well as the work force for it.

I’m going to talk about neighbors and the neighborhood I love best, being part of the United States Army neighborhood.  We, as all Army families do, moved frequently and lived overseas as well as all over the US.  From my very first days around the Army decades ago, one of the most amazing opportunities to me was to actually be able to meet people, up close and personal, from all over the United States. Due to the traveling and also soldiers’ propensity to marry women in far-flung locales, I even met many people from all over the globe.  My husband retired from the Army more than a decade ago and we live in a typical southern town next to a large US Army installation with a population like an international smorgasbord.  Just a few days ago, my primary care doctor, who is Syrian, was talking about the situation in Syria and he pulled out his cell phone to show me pictures of his parents home, where the next-door neighbor’s house had recently been bombed.  His parents are here living with him, so thankfully they are safe.

From a post I wrote in January titled, “Multiculturism My Way”you can glean that I consider the world “my neighborhood”  too and even growing up in the backwoods of rural PA, I longed to meet people from all over the world.  Luck definitely lit my way in life, because it’s been a privilege to have a retired solider hand me a slip of paper that opened the door to first meeting people all over the globe and then to spend decades as part of the US Army neighborhood, where patriotism shines bright. It’s been an opportunity to meet wonderful neighbors and hopefully to be a good neighbor too.  So, I want to talk about my neighborhood, where all the values this proposed phony Citadel scheme purports to value is part of the very fabric of the US Army community.

Soldiers believe in a strong national defense, almost down to the last man and woman.  Soldiers believe in patriotism too and a cloak of values shields our neighborhood: loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service , honor, integrity, personal courage (Army values here)  As the standard-bearers of General George Washington’s army, we certainly take very seriously the trust invested in us to bear true faith and allegiance to the Constitution of the United States.  Unlike these, hummm, I’m searching for a word that isn’t a cuss word, because ‘jackasses” came to mind.  Here, I’ll settle on calling them deluded people, unlike them, the Army community is strong enough to welcome people from all over the US and the world and still be a place where our values flourish.  In basic training at Fort Dix, NJ, I learned about how a foreigner seeking citizenship, could acquire it by serving in the US Army.  So, we’re strong enough to welcome diverse people into our ranks and still stay true to our values.

I had all kinds of neighbors living in the barracks as a young private and once I married we found wonderful neighbors everywhere we lived – on Army posts, in German villages and in civilian communities in America.  I’ve managed to make friends and learn a heck of a lot by embracing people who are different than me.  I’ve learned to make some darned good egg rolls from an Army wife from Thailand, who came to my home and spent the afternoon showing me.  I’ve acquired recipes galore and much more.  I had an Army wife from Korea (who married a Cuban guy) show me how to make sushi (yes, I know Japanese, right) in her kitchen.  She was trying to learn how to make Cuban dishes.  I learned to prepare many German dishes from numerous German friends.  I had a Cuban neighbor in one neighborhood, who loved to cook and she was constantly bringing food to me and telling me, “here try this, you’ll love it!” and I did.   That Cuban lady was friends with my next-door neighbor who was Puerto-Rican, so I often got a combination of foods to try. When my oldest daughter was in kindergarten, I met a Lebanese neighbor down the street and she asked me to bring my kids down to her house to play with her son, who was my daughter’s classmate. We became friends and I learned about Lebanese food, because this family ran a Lebanese restaurant.  Lebanese food ranks as some of the best food in the world.

In my food from around the world saga, I can’t leave out this wonderful Southern lady, who was married to a retired Special Forces soldier, who lived down the street from me when we lived off-post at Fort Bragg.  This wonderful lady and her husband had adopted two special needs children and this lady struck up a friendship with me, because her little daughter was the same age as my oldest daughter.  This lady taught me about Southern cooking and boy, she loved to cook.  She often would call in the morning and tell me to bring my daughter down to her house and she’d list the lunch menu and many times she’d say, “come early and we can chat and I’ll show you how to cook”….- fill-in-the-blank with a Southern dish.

Now, some of my forays into international cooking do go awry and I provided a good laugh for my youngest daughter’s  friend several years ago when she was in my kitchen watching me roll up burritos.  This neighbor has a Mexican mother and she had this dismayed look on her face and said, “What are you doing!”  She told me how to properly roll up burritos and I am sure her mother got a good laugh out of her story about my pathetic burrito-rolling skills, but hey, this girl loves my potato salad, so we all have our strong suits:-)

I must confess that my favorite cuisine is authentic Chinese.  Unfortunately, I never met a Chinese woman to come teach me how to cook Chinese food.  I do have a friend who is half-Japanese who offered lots of advice on Japanese cooking, but I’ve been winging it on Chinese cooking with cookbooks and experimenting over the years.  When I did volunteer work at the American Red Cross doing Red Cross messages, a lovely Puerto-Rican friend frequently brought in food.  I learned that the Caribbean is sort of an international mishmash of cultures and thus I still use this handwritten recipe from this friend called , “Puertorican Chinese Arroz”, where she helpfully put “rice” in parentheses.

What’s magical about Chinese cuisine, as well as their culture, is how they take what little they have and through a long, long history, as one of the oldest cultures on earth, developed  ways to adjust and thrive, through good times and bad.  Chinese people demonstrate amazing resilience.  Their cooking encapsulates this, how with a few varied cooking techniques or a few spices,  they can take a few simple ingredients and turn it into something unique and flavorful.  The Chinese spirit to adapt and persevere always amazes me.  Of course, they offer Sun Tzu too, which I just love- all that ancient wisdom on military strategy that still resonates today;-)

This is a true story about a neighbor I had one time – a lovely, good neighbor with a very kind heart and the kind of trusting soul – like the type of people who will start sending money to some schemers like these Citadel planners (yes, this liberty-based community is a “scheme” – it exists only on their webpage).  We were living in military quarters in Germany at the time and my neighbor (a lovely German lady) was preparing to move back to the States with her soldier husband.  My neighbor had an extensive David Winter cottage collection, which she decided to sell.  She sold them to a soldier who didn’t have the money up front, so she accepted a stack of postdated checks, which she agreed to deposit each month and he assured her that  he would have money in this checking account to cover them.  I urged her to hold on to her collection until she found a buyer with cash in hand.

That same neighbor was planning to buy some lovely lakefront property in the US, dirt cheap and sight unseen, but she needed  to send money fast before someone else snatched up this almost too good to be true deal.  I forget where she heard about this property, but I begged her to hold on to her money until she got back to the US and could actually walk around this property and see what she was buying.  When I thought her naive trust had reached its limit, she told me about this puppy her dog had.   Her close friend down the street headed back to the States and my neighbor said her friend was going to send money to her to fly that puppy back to the States as soon as they were settled at their next duty station. The friend had said she wanted the puppy, but then had endless excuses why she couldn’t take the puppy with them.  I gently tried to tell my neighbor that if her friend had really wanted that puppy, she would have taken it with them when they left.  Naturally, my neighbor was stuck keeping that puppy.

My neighbor would help anyone and she had a wonderful sense of humor.  She was the type of neighbor I loved having and you know I couldn’t tell you exactly what her politics were, nor did I ever think about her patriotism.  What I did value was that if I needed a helping hand or help in an emergency, I knew she would do whatever she could to help me.  I judged her on her character and she had a sterling character, albeit a bit too trusting of a soul.  It might be better to teach your kids to respect and value people with differing views rather than enclosing your family behind a fortress to shield them from people with different views.


Filed under Culture Wars, Military

8 responses to “Sweet land of liberty….. (or land of the gullible?)

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