by Charlie Martel aka Tyr Symank
This first appeared in The Havok Journal on July 4th, 2020.
“Now more than ever” is a phrase I’ve despised since its overuse following the attacks on September 11, 2001. People who weren’t even sure they liked being an American on 9/10 were suddenly the most patriotic, flag-waving citizens on 9/12. I was halfway through Special Forces school when we were attacked. While my patriotism may not have been truly tested, I had already proven myself in my ability to volunteer in support of the greater good — as had those around me. Acta non verba. “Now more than ever” feels like the guy that shows up at a funeral crying, claiming to be the deceased’s best friend.
In spite of my disdain for this star-spangled catchphrase, I feel I must invigorate it for 2020. We are living in an unprecedented time where everything is questioned for motive or privilege. At the time of writing, I’ve served in special operations for 20 years, most of it in the National Guard. At that time, I have never had more than a test alert. There have been multiple natural calamities that adjacent units have been activated for. We have largely been left alone from traditional guard call-ups due to our operational tempo within the special operations realm. We are at the half-way mark of 2020 and I have been alerted four times, two with state activations. This is indicative of what you already know: 2020 has been a rough one.
In the last few months, we have witnessed an absolute disintegration of decorum. People behind keyboards spew vile insults at other people behind keyboards that they’ve never met — all in the name of social justice or patriotic duty, depending on what color they happen to be wearing on their sleeve. Children with more student loans than life experience have spilled into the streets to demand changes to things they know little about, but God forbid they are left out, shouting at men and women in uniform things that would have seemed utterly obscene over a latte just a month earlier. Far-right revolutionaries have found an excuse for murder, and have gone so far right they’ve circled around to the far left without realizing it. Far-left revolutionaries have effectively neutered major metropolitan police forces under the flag of justice and transformed into murderous police themselves (I’m looking at you CHAZ security). Orwellian pigs wearing pants.
All of this while the nation wears masks in various stages of what-do-we-do-now with a virus that shows no signs of giving us any reprieve or return to normalcy.
Now more than ever, I am proud to wear this flag on my shoulder. In this country, that guy standing next to his socialist councilwoman opposite a police officer shouting, “Kill yourself! Just take that gun out of your holster, put it to your head, and pull the fucking trigger!” is permissible behavior. It is ugly and is not without social consequences, but he is free to say it. Doing this in another nation could result in life imprisonment, or worse. The journalist taking photos of inordinately brutal police activity is free to do so, and his editor is free to publish them. The kid with a cell phone, who may only use it for TikTok and Snapchat has unfettered access to information and truth at the tips of his fingers. The nurse who treats patients with COVID-19 on a daily basis is free to share what she knows and sees, regardless of party lines or national messaging. Now, as the very fabric of our freedoms are being strained and twisted for use by those who would see them abolished — more than ever, I love this country.
We are not perfect, nor were the men who founded the nation. It took 13 years for them to agree on a set of rules that would secure the freedoms we are actively using. It took a tweet to deface and demonize the likeness of those same men. They were not perfect, nor are we. But we are free.
Most of this freedom is taken for granted, as many are blind to how others live. I have seen tyranny. I have seen oppression. I have seen outright racism and discrimination. This isn’t it. We are not perfect, but we are free. There is a moral responsibility with this freedom to improve ourselves and our nation, to lift each other up. But we are not obligated to — because we are free. We are free to waste our freedom just as we are free to abuse it. But we are free.
For this reason, for your freedom and mine, I love this country. Happy birthday, America.
Tyr accidentally started writing in 2015 under the accidental pen name of Charlie Martel when Facebook did not believe Tyr was his real name. Tyr/ Charlie has 25 years of service in the Army and Army National Guard. He began his career as a tank crewman, and by a twist of fate, trained and rode horses for the 1st Cavalry Division. He tried out for Special Forces in 1999 and has been in special operations ever since. Tyr has deployed numerous times to Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Korea, and African and Asian countries as both a Green Beret and a civilian. It is hotly debated whether he is best known for his T-Rex impression, successfully amputating a man’s leg in a Qalat, or rocking UDT’s with an M24 in the Hindu Kush Mountains.
He is currently the manager of strategic partnerships and charitable giving at Black Rifle Coffee Company and a sergeant major in the 19th Special Forces Group. He spends his free time with his family and working on his 4×4 ambulance.