This opinion was penned by Jeff Collins, an inmate incarcerated at (NCCC) in Ohio.
“We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our prosperity, do ordain and establish in this constitution for the United States of America.”
I remember a time not too long ago when I was a kid in elementary school, where I first learned the preamble, the Declaration of Independence, and the Pledge of Allegiance. I was taught the general history of the former 13 colonies, and the later
50 states. I was taught how early America was plagued by slavery, and how it had drove a wedge between the northern and southern states, otherwise formally known as the “civil war”, and led to the assassination of our nation’s 16th president, Abraham Lincoln. I was also taught how in 1917 America was involved in the first world war. Three years later in 1920 our world was plagued by a very contagious and deadly form of influenza. Sadly, it resulted in the deaths of millions around the world. I was taught that America was sent into a great depression, and the only thing that brought us out, was world war II during the period of 1941-1945. We were left with a surplus of military equipment and steel. We sold off the surplus to our allies, which catapulted us into the world power as we love and know today. Does any of this sound familiar? Is it because you were taught the same things as a child? When was the last time you thought about our nation’s history?
Picture yourself walking by the statue of Abraham Lincoln, would you stop and think about his achievements, the civil war, slavery, racism, and his assassination for what he stood for? Or are you one of the many Americans that just go about their lives, never thinking twice about the sacrifices that have been made, so we as a society can have the freedoms we take for granted everyday? If you were standing in front of Arlington National Cemetery looking out at the vast rows of white crosses, would the thought ever cross your mind, that every one of those crosses represents a real human being, all of whom defended our nation, and the freedoms we take for granted?
These teachings were instilled in me from several teachers, and several relatives who served in the various branches of the armed forces, dating as far back as world war II. I remember how I always loved hearing their stories of their missions, their Courage, Bravery and Honor. I always looked up to them as my heroes, wanting to follow in their footsteps and serve just as they did. I saw firsthand the respect that was shown to them for their service. I also saw firsthand the carnage and its effects that their service and sacrifice has taken on their bodies and their minds as they aged.
My great grandfather “Edward ‘Ed’ Phalen” served during World War II. He was in the Army air core, the airforce as we know it today. My great grandfather was a hardworking man; he loved God, his country, and his family. I remember once when I was just a little boy, maybe 4 or 5 years old, and I was sitting there in the chair next to him eating Rocky Road ice cream and drinking root beer as we watched the history channel. He would tell me child-friendly stories about his time in the war, when movies came on. I remember when he and my uncle Francis took me to see “Saving Private Ryan.” I was so excited. It was all fun until at one point during the movie. I looked up at my grandpa and saw his hand was covering his eyes and pinching the bridge of his nose. He was wiping away tears. I was too young to understand or make the connection at the time as to why he was crying. I just remember crawling over the arm rest and into his lap and trying to wrap my little arms around him to give him a hug. I had spent the rest of that movie feeling sad because my hero was hurting, and my little self couldn’t help him. I remember how behind our house was the city park where the fireworks were lit every “Independence Day.” I have never missed a fireworks show to this day. Whether in person or through the t.v. I make it a point to witness the celebration of our freedom, and to in some manner or another give thanks to those who’ve fought for and defended the freedoms for which we all enjoy. Just thanking them is not enough.
Over the early years of my youth, I had witnessed with my own eyes the battle scars of my grandpa’s service. The mental, emotional and physical trauma. I remember seeing the scars on his legs from an incident where his plane was shot down during the war. He had been captured and made a prisoner of war. I don’t have all the details, and don’t want my words to rob him of his service. So I won’t go into that further. However, his plane was salvaged and is currently sitting in the Wright-Patterson Air Force Museum in Dayton,Ohio. My great grandpa, my hero passed away on February 6, 2006. Three days after his 81st birthday.
On January 6, 2021, our former 45th president Donald J. Trump, his attorney former New York governor Rudy Guillani, and Republican Senator Ted Cruz held a rally formerly known as “Stop the Steal” or “The Big Lie.” This was set up to protest, over the span of the late morning and early afternoon, the electoral college’s certification of president-elect Joe Biden, and vice president-elect Kamala Harris. During this rally armed supporters showed up to listen to the influential words of their president, governor, and senator and their misleading insinuations, countless lies, boasting, incitements, and violent figurative language. Their lack of integrity, lack of a general moral compass, and blatant disregard for the oath which all of them have taken led to the multitude of armed, angry, and hate-fueled people who hung on every word their leaders had spoken, to march down to the U.S. Capitol building, breaking through various barriers, blending in with the other peaceful protesters, and turning what was already a peaceful protest into a violent unruly mob, leading to property damage, mass injuries, and the deaths of at least 7 individuals, two of whom were police officers, killed for defending our nation. Two other officers took their own lives after what had happened that day.
The presidential oath portion of the constitution of the United States says:
“Before the president enters the execution of his office, he shall take the following oath of affirmation: ‘I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of the president of the United States, and will do the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the constitution of the United States.”
When President Donald J. Trump lost the election, he cried, bitched, and complained from November 3rd 2020-January 6th 2021 how the Democrats stole the election from him. He claimed it was rigged and that there were lost or stolen votes. I remember watching on t.v. for days and nights…where the news stations broadcast on live television, the process taking place at the voter poles to ensure that nothing would go wrong. There were both Democratic and Republican supervisors at each polling station in the United States to ensure the election would be fair and just and uphold the integrity of our democracy.
A person who is elected into a position of authority should always hold themselves to a higher standard, a standard that does not conflict nor abandon our country’s foundational teachings, principles and laws. Rather, the standard should be kept in accordance not to their own will, but to the will of the people of the United States of America. Honor, integrity, respect are more than just words. They are one-word definitions of a description of person’s character. I once heard a quote that reads as follows:
“In order to test a man’s character, give him a low level position of authority.”
Being that I have experience with being a ranking member of an organization I understand all too well the need to keep and protect our laws and policies. While in the organization, the philosophies, teachings, and principles are taught not to undermine what we stand for, but rather we are taught to keep our laws through education, dedication, and discipline. Only after a person has the knowledge of his organization and history can he gain true understanding and wisdom. Only when you truly have that type of understanding where you came from and why the laws were set in place can you then make proper decisions for the betterment and prosperity of the people.
Our forefathers set forth a constitution so that we as a people would have rights guaranteed to us. The oath that our leader took was to uphold and protect democracy. Nowhere in the oath does it say he should tell lies misleading the people to do what took place on January 6th 2021!
The president’s defense of his role of what took place is that it’s protected under “freedom of speech” I’m sorry, it’s not free speech to incite a ‘felony’ that leads to the death of not one, but at least 7 people. THAT IS CRIMINAL…
How you ask? If I give an instruction whether directly or indirectly to commit a crime and that crime leads to the death of a person(s) on purpose or accident, that’s a criminal act. PERIOD! His “words” charged an armed mob to storm the Capitol, which caused people to die. That’s not free speech! That’s criminal! I know this to be true. I’m sitting in prison for 43-life behind the same type of theory. But this is not about me. This is about how the president of the United States is not above the law and is held to the same standard we as common people are bound.
By what took place on January 6th, 2021, those individuals who participated have spit on the graves of every American before us who have given their lives defending what we stand for. The country I once loved and wanted to defend, serve, and protect has once again been divided. Our president over the span of 4 years, drove a wedge between our nation. That same wedge was finally driven in on January 6th 2021, forever dividing our once great nation. I fear we may never truly recover from this division.
Let me finish by saying thank you to Felicia for giving me the opportunity to speak my opinion on what’s happening in our world beyond these gates.