The news over the last couple of days has been all about the speech made by President Obama at his acceptance of the Nobel Peace Prize. While I was pleased to hear that he had delivered yet another great speech, I haven’t been particularly interested in hearing the opinions of all those “talking heads.” However, last night’s episode of Charlie Rose opened with an excerpt from that speech that really struck me. In order for you to understand why, I’ll have to start with a little background.
While participating in the VA’s Day Treatment program, I attended several of their occupational therapy clinics. In one of them, the guy who ran it allowed patients to post things on a large cork board he’d put up for that purpose. One of the things that had been posted was something about the European propensity to consider Americans as “uncivilized.” While I don’t remember the details, the response of the particular American who posted it was a question that went something like:
Which part of Europe are you from? The part who’s ass we kicked? Or the part who’s ass we saved?
I have never forgotten that notice. And although I would have, perhaps, used different words, I have been bothered ever since by the seeming unwillingness of our leaders to remind the world of these facts. Well I finally got what I wanted in President Obama’s speech, and in words much better than I could have come up with on my own. I extracted the pertinent piece from Full text of Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize speech:
Yet the world must remember that it was not simply international institutions – not just treaties and declarations – that brought stability to a post-World War II world. Whatever mistakes we have made, the plain fact is this: the United States of America has helped underwrite global security for more than six decades with the blood of our citizens and the strength of our arms. The service and sacrifice of our men and women in uniform has promoted peace and prosperity from Germany to Korea, and enabled democracy to take hold in places like the Balkans. We have borne this burden not because we seek to impose our will. We have done so out of enlightened self-interest – because we seek a better future for our children and grandchildren, and we believe that their lives will be better if other peoples’ children and grandchildren can live in freedom and prosperity.
I have never been more proud to be an American, or of an American President. And I’ll be even more proud when the people here at home are able, once again, to live kind of lives that have also been paid for by the blood of our citizens.
I want ice water.