(Centennial Intern) "The American people, they're very simple people," said Wang Qishan, Vice Premier of China, according to recent news accounts. Was there a note of condescension in this, coming from a high official of the ancient and self-regarding Middle Kingdom that sees itself superior to all other nations? Maybe.
Regardless, my response to the Vice Premier took shape last weekend, when I had the opportunity of doing what I love most and what continues to be the epitome of honor in my life - - leading our men and women in uniform. One moment that captures what America means to me as well of millions of other Americans is an image vested in simplicity. It is a story that takes us to the wine country of Western Colorado, specifically Grand Junction.
My platoon sergeant (senior most non-commissioned officer in a platoon) and I were driving down a street in Grand Junction next to the farming area of the city. Two farmers, working on their tractor, stopped working and smiled and waved as we passed by. This is one of the several gestures we see during training, whether it is a wave, a smile, or a thumbs up. I believe this is the simplicity Qishan was referring to; however, I am convinced that vested within that simplicity is what makes our nation great.
It is, as I like to refer to it as, the greatness of simplicity. It is the values and morals that make this nation what it is today; a bastion for freedom and a vindication of the words inscribed within the Statue of Liberty: "Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"
Mr. Qishan, we are simple people who are proud of our simplicity and the greatness within it. It is this aforementioned simplicity, vested within the morals and values that define our nation, which will continue to perpetuate its greatness and its beacon of hope and freedom for the world. It is why I am convinced that even though my generation will face the greatest challenges we have witnessed since World War II; we will also see our greatest triumphs.
My unit, the 947th Engineers, Colorado Army National Guard, at work: