The Right to a Safe Way of Life

If you are like me, you may well be just a bit tired of hearing people screaming that they have a right to this, that, or the other thing. Far too many people believe that the very act of breathing the air of a free country entitles them to everything from free hospital care, to a free lawyer, to beautiful body and a great mind. My friends, this is just so much congealed cow plop.

Nothing is free in this life. There is a price for the rights we all enjoy in this great land. It is my opinion that each of us has to work for our community and our country. The mere paying of taxes does not entitle any of us to anything. It is a law. Obeying laws is what we do.

I can recall an irate citizen in Newark, New Jersey telling me that he could boss me around because he paid my salary. My silence only served to anger him further. It was at that point that I asked a Newark Police Officer to escort this citizen from the scene of the emergency. It was with a smile on my face that I watched this same pretentious person try his "I pay your salary" argument on the cop. Can you say "hand cuffs."

You should understand that as a 58-year-old-man, and veteran of 26 years' service in the active and reserve military forces of my country I feel that I have worked proactively to earn my share of the freedoms we enjoy in this country. Mind you, others have paid a far greater price than me, but I am still quite proud of following in my father's military footsteps. While I did not achieve great rank in the military, I always tried to do my job well and faithfully.

It may well be that your views on this topic are different from mine. That is what this is all about. We are members of a free society and have the right to express our views. It is just that I belief there is a price for each citizen to pay in order to enjoy these freedoms.

Let me explain that my views on the rights and privileges of citizenship come as a result of me growing to adulthood in a far different time and place in our land. In the Freehold, New Jersey of my youth, a great emphasis was placed on being a member of the community. There was a crowd at each service club meeting in town and there was a waiting list for the local fire department.

My parents belonged to a number of groups in town. So it was for most of their friends. The people of my parent's generation had grown to adulthood during a depression and cut their eye-teeth on the battlefields of World War II. My mother still tells the story of how she and Dad married not too long before he shipped out to North Africa in 1943. She also speaks of the 29 months that they were apart. I think of the time she spent worrying about Dad while he served first in North Africa and then in Italy.

I can only imagine the heartache she felt when the telegram came informing her that he had been wounded in the Battle of Mount Battaglia in Italy. His unit must have done a swell job, as they earned a Presidential Unit Citation for their efforts. Dad left active duty in 1945 and picked up his life with Mom.

However, part of him missed serving in the military. So in spite of his war wounds and long-term separation from Mom, Dad signed up for a stint in the National Guard in the old Freehold Armory. The armory was so close to our home on Jerseyville Avenue that he could walk to drills in about 5 minutes or less.

Dad lived and breathed the U.S. Army. He left high school in 1940 to join the U.S. Army at Fort Monmouth, New Jersey. Over the course of his 39-year career he rose from the rank of Buck Private to be a Colonel in the U.S. Army Reserve. Service to our country was an example set for my brother and I at a very early age. We grew to adulthood with this as our example of service to country and devotion to duty.

My own community service began in 1964 when I joined the cadet unit at the Freehold First Aid Squad. Riding the rigs was a great part of my last two years in high school. Let me be completely candid with you. I joined for the excitement. However, over the years it dawned on me that I was doing something good for Freehold. I came to feel that I had a place in town and that I was doing good works for my fellow citizens.

Somewhere along the way things changed. The quiet rural community of my youth in Freehold Township disappeared while I was away for four years in the U.S. Air Force. The population grew tremendously and a great many of the farms were covered over new tract homes. My childhood memories were erased by builders and their bulldozers.

However, that did not stop me from picking up where I left off in the first aid squad. However, it was a bit more difficult finding all of the new addresses in town. Just before I got married in 1972, I moved to the Village of Adelphia and began serving my newly-adopted community. So it has been for the past 33 years with the Adelphia Fire Company.

Neither the community nor I have remained static. Howell Township has grown from the 1,100 citizens of my youth to a suburban community approaching 50,000 people. More than 3,000 units of housing have been built within one air mile of my home. The new people who have moved into our community are far different than those of us who are home-grown.

All I here from the newcomers is a litany of pissing, moaning, griping, and bitching. Many have told me about how great things were where they came from. Fortunately I have never given any of these groaners the obvious answer their complaints so richly deserved. That would be something along the lines of, "