12/29/08 — In good faith: U.S. counts on Obama now to uphold nation's honor

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In good faith: U.S. counts on Obama now to uphold nation's honor

When President-elect Barack Obama was elected, one of the first messages he sent was to those who did not vote for him, telling his political doubters that he would work to earn their trust and, subsequently, their future votes.

A nice sentiment and one that many of those who doubt the Obama mystique and hype hope is more than just another politician's promise that will evaporate after his inauguration speech.

So now it is almost 2009 -- and less than a month before Obama becomes the president of the United States and prepares to take on everything from the economy to America's position in the world.

So, in the spirit of the new year -- and in good faith based on the president-elect's call for bipartisanship, cooperation and change -- here is a synopsis of what many of us want to see as Obama begins to think about how he is going to manage America's image abroad.

First off, and please make a note of this, we do not want to be friends with everyone. That is not in America's best interest. We are a strong, proud and principled country that has sacrificed many of its sons and daughters to fight for not only what protects our own freedoms, but those of people we might never meet -- just because it is the right thing to do. So that means we won't always be liked. We might sometimes have to stand tall when others are giving in to what's politically expedient. We might have to be the one who takes the lead, says the hard things, takes the unpopular stands. With great power comes great responsibility; we never want you to forget that.

Second, remember, this is the country of the Greatest Generation and legions of fighting men and women who have sacrificed their lives for their country and the world. We do not want you to hang your head when you speak of America's history or decisions -- and we do not want you to tolerate any such talk from any of our allies and our foes. Many of them would not have a history of their own without the support, sacrifice and selfless concern that has been this country's hallmark for hundreds of years. We are and have been a shining example of freedom and taking care of those who cannot fight for themselves. Before you attend your next summit or entertain a world leader, visit Normandy and talk to some of the citizens there. They still revere the men who played a part in taking back their country for them -- while losing their own lives. They have not forgotten, and you should not either. That is your country's legacy -- and it is a proud tradition of service that continues today.

And last but not least, make sure you remain proud to be an American. This nation has its faults -- and there is much we need to work on -- but the base is solid, and the freedoms that our flag stands for are still alive and well. We have been there for one another and for the world -- that is our way. Make sure those you encounter remember that.

You will be our leader, our champion, our commander in chief. We expect you to behave as we would -- proud to be Americans and letting the world know that while we are always willing to help and fight for what is right, we will never, ever forget those who threaten our citizens and our shores.

And finally, we expect you never to forget the 3,000 innocent lives lost on Sept. 11, 2001, and the thousands of men and women who have died trying to fight terrorism.

That, perhaps, will be your most important task, to make sure those lives were not lost in vain.

We will watch to see how you do.

Published in Editorials on December 29, 2008 10:58 AM