Recently, I have been thinking quite a bit about my late father, John Riddle.
It has been almost 33 years since he died, and I honestly can say it is rare for me to go a day without thinking about him. I was 17 when he tragically was taken away from my family because of an accidental gunshot wound.
I’m sharing the cause of his death for two reasons: One, I want to make it apparent that not everyone who has lost a loved one due to a shooting accident is an anti-gun zealot like much of the mainstream media would have us believe, and two, my father would have wanted me to share this information, given the recent attacks on our right to bear arms.
My father taught me a lot of things, but the one thing he instilled in me above all else was love for and pride in America. To this day, my dad was the most patriotic person I have ever known. I remember sitting with him as a child and watching the national anthem come on when the local television channel signed off for the day. He told me to stand up and place my hand over my heart. He did, too.
To this day, when I hear the national anthem or see an American flag, I am filled with pride. I have tried to instill the same feelings in my own children, though I probably haven’t been as successful as my father was.
As I’ve aged, I’ve struggled with this dilemma: How do I take pride in this country I still love so much when it has changed into a place that I — at times — am so ashamed off?
On one hand, I feel like I am letting my father down. However, the sad reality is that my father likely is rolling over in his grave over what our country has become. It’s so hard to continue to take pride in a nation where thousands of unborn children are killed every day, where every third commercial on television features a crooked lawyer coercing clients into suing deep-pocketed businesses, where millions receive some sort of welfare check every month. Our country is now a place where teachers cannot read from the Bible or pray with their students, a place where the definition of the word "family" has been broadened to mean unnatural relationships, a place where we attempt to take guns from law-abiding citizens while excusing criminals who commit crimes with weapons. Our country is a place where one out of two marriages end in divorce, a place where sex and nudity are common on TV, a place where Christians prefer to fit in with everyone else instead of being set apart. I could go on and on.
The fact is, the country that my father loved and took pride in — and taught me to love and take pride in — no longer exists. And the people who remember that country and who attempt to hold on to it are called names and treated like pariahs.
This month, I turn 50 years old. With each passing day, I’ve seen that people like me are becoming relics. The values of self-sacrifice, rugged individualism, accountability, patriotism and loving Jesus Christ are becoming the exception and not the rule.
For my children’s sake, I hope this country’s decline will cease. What I do know is that it will continue to change, and change is not always good.