In October of 1994, I was a 19-year-old Marine in a crumbling building in Cape Haitien, Haiti.
A few decades earlier, it was a thriving hotel in an island paradise.
At that point, it was serving as a shelter for my Marine patrol. President Bill Clinton sent troops to Haiti after the democratically elected government of Jean-Bertrand Aristide was deposed in a military coup.
The rains were predictable and harsh, around 9 p.m. every evening, and they would last about two hours. It would give us plenty of time to have more than a few conversations, especially, the most asked question: "when are we going home?"
Of course none of us knew that answer.
Every now and then, the question would get asked among ourselves: "why are we even here?"
Duh! We got sent here, and we have a job to do, right?
One of my close buddies did catch me in an interesting conversation during one of these crazy storms one night.
"Why the hell do they have us here?" he asked me.
"Why the hell do they have us anywhere?" I said. "They send us where they tell us to go. Better than mess duty!"
"Why do we have to clean up other people's messes?" he asked. "Why can't these people fix their own ****? We aren't even in Port-au-Prince (the capital of Haiti)!"
"Look at it this way," I said. "I don't see crazy-*** people trying to take over (Washington, D.C.) any time soon!
We're America. Who's gonna try to do that?"
Did I say this was REAL conversation I had as a 19-year-old in a foreign country with a semi-automatic rifle in my hand?
Fast forward to my office at The Lincoln County Journal on Jan. 6. I'm doing my usual work when an alert comes over my phone. "Protestors" have stormed the United States Capitol Building while Congress was formally holding the electoral vote to confirm the election of Joe Biden as the next President of the United States.
You've got to be kidding me, right? People are storming the building where our elected representatives do their business? This is actually happening?
And people in THIS country are actually cheering this?
The people who overthrew Aristide in 1994 called themselves "patriots," "freedom fighters" and "liberators."
They were none of those things. They were, in fact, terrorists, murderers, rapists and thieves responsible for the deaths of over 3,000 men, women and children – and the rape and brutalization of thousands more.
They turned a democratically elected government into a military junta, and said the people were better off for it!
The men and women who broke through the barriers and stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6, killing a Capitol Police Officer in the process, will probably call themselves "patriots" and “heroes” as well, protesting against the results of an "unfair election."
Many will probably agree with them.
Those were not "heroes" or "patriots." Those were not even "Americans" out there.
The word "patriotism" has been bastardized into something simply ugly by certain segments of our population mostly by people who, quite frankly, who chose not to actually serve our country when it was their turn to do so, but suddenly found it was a good time to play Captain America in a time of political expedience.
Fake "patriots" are willing to kill to defend THEIR rights!
Real ones are willing to die to defend someone else's rights!
That's the difference between the "people" who stormed the Capitol last Wednesday, and the men and women who give their lives day in and day out for liberty and freedom across the globe.
I took an oath to defend America against all enemies, both foreign and domestic, and I witnessed a nation under attack by people who claim to "love it."
Arrests have already been made, and the FBI, along with the Department of the Army has launched a terrorism (yes, a terrorism) investigation due to the fact there were several people who took the same oath I took nearly three decades earlier to defend this country from all enemies, both foreign, and in this case, domestic, who are still serving, who obviously forgot about that oath – and their country altogether – and took part in an insurrection against the same nation they swore to protect!
As I said before. Those weren’t Americans out there last Wednesday. Those were domestic terrorists and traitors!
It doesn't matter where your political ideologies lie. It doesn't matter whom you voted for.
What matters is America saw its darkest and ugliest side in a place that should be one of its most secure.
Jan. 6, 2021 was a dark day for this country that will live in infamy along with other awful dates in American history, such as Dec. 7, 1941 and Sept. 11, 2001.
The only difference will be it will known as a date when “Americans” attacked Americans because of a temper tantrum, nothing else.
The 19-year-old version of me could have never conceived our Congress could have been held hostage by an angry mob on a cold Wednesday afternoon based on a pack of lies.
I was thinking of other things while waiting on the rain to stop in that crumbling building that was once a thriving hotel in an island paradise…