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Friday, July 19, 2024

COLUMN: Never Forget How COVID Showed the Strength of Our Nation

This piece represents the views of the author and not U.S. Customs and Border Protection or the Department of Homeland Security

Lately I’ve been hearing a lot of people say this is no longer their America. That the American spirit has been suppressed to such a point that it can’t possibly recover and rise up again. That everything that is taking place within the United States is proof that the greatest country in the world has essentially died.

People make these statements because of the current political climate surrounding us and doing its best to further divide us. It may also be because of the many atrocities we see taking place as the rhetoric for defunding our police continues to gain momentum throughout various states. The narrative that we live in a country riddled with systemic racism doesn’t help quell the fires throughout our country, either.

In the last year, we’ve seen cities brought down to their knees because of all the violence taking place in the form of looting and rioting. It hasn’t helped that so many local governments seem to have accepted the looting and riots as something that is OK to do because so many people doing it are claiming that it’s all in the name of justice, their liberties and freedoms.

We’ve seen our police departments attacked to no end by some of the citizens they’ve sworn to protect and the very politicians who actually wrote and enacted the laws of our land… our country. I can’t deny that the images coming across the television screen in our living room have rattled me from time to time and have even led me to question the vast majority of our elected officials. Some of those officials seem to be unstoppable in their determination to completely destroy our country from within. The other half of those officials don’t seem to have the courage nor the determination to stand and fight. These seem to be the common narratives on the television and even on talk radio.

Is the current spiteful political climate discouraging? Does it hurt or at the very least impact the all-American spirit that has made our nation the greatest in the world? Does it lead people to believe that life, as we knew it, is over?

For some people, things may be so out of control and out of the “norm” we had been accustomed to that they truly do believe the American Dream has died. That everything America stands for is being attacked by so many political and media elements to a point where people can’t see a way to recover from it.

From all the comments I hear around me and what the mainstream media is broadcasting 24/7, I would venture to say yes.

And yet, it all leads me to ask two simple questions.

  1. Hasn’t all this happened before?
  2. Haven’t the American spirit and the will of the people come out on top in the end?

First things first, I was not raised a Proud American. It took years for me to understand what an amazing country I was living in. My elementary education was not strong enough to instill patriotism in me or to even properly inform me as to why millions of people were strong proponents of our American flag, our national anthem and the ever-powerful red, white and blue colors.

My family instilled a hard work ethic and yet never once shared the importance of such celebrations as Veterans Day, the Fourth of July or the solemn meaning behind Memorial Day. I’d like to think that they knew the reasons behind these important days, but I can’t be quite sure since nobody in the family had ever served in the military. To this day, I am the only one who did.

The dream of even taking an oath to serve and protect as a member of the law enforcement family was never discussed either. Again, nobody in my family had ever worn a badge nor had ever taken such oath. Our focus was surviving poverty and making the best life possible with what little we did have.

So how could they raise me to be a Patriotic Son? They were poor migrant workers from Mexico who had struggled to finally be here legally and do their best to raise us all in a manner that could teach us the importance of working hard with little to no education. They did pass on the importance of a good education, but graduating from high school was our goal. They simply didn’t think “more” was possible – not for us, at least.

As a matter of fact, the first oath I ever took was to join the Army immediately after graduating from high school. I can honestly tell you that I took that first oath as a means of survival from the poverty-stricken neighborhood in which I grew up. I wanted more out of life and although I was now swearing to quite possibly give my life for America, I didn’t even understand it. I had no clue I was turning over a blank check to the American people that could be cashed in at any given moment in any given conflict in which our military would find itself. I did so, blindly.

It was in the Army where my Proud American spirit caught up to me. How could it not? To be surrounded by courageous men and women from all walks of life who, like me, were doing everything they possibly could to push through some of the worst challenges of our lives. Men and women struggling just as I was and yet encouraging each other to keep going and never give up. Promising each other to not leave anyone behind no matter how tough things got.

The commitment of the instructors we had and the decorations placed over their hearts on the dress uniform were depiction enough to grasp their dedication to our country. The stripes on the bottom of their right sleeve are proof that they bear some unseen battle scars and have already walked through the valley of the shadow of death. Something so many individuals have only heard of or read about.

It is these individuals and so many others within law enforcement who have shown me the true meaning of patriotism. It has been through them that my own spirit came alive and forever forged a tattoo within my chest that cries out for the greatest country in the world.

But the American Spirit and determination has ALWAYS shown us all that it goes beyond the military and the law enforcement community.

What about all the truck drivers who worked nonstop to deliver much-needed household goods such as toilet paper and water when we first learned of COVID-19?

The people within the medical profession who worked tirelessly day and night to care for our loved ones and us during a time when we still didn’t quite understand much about this virus.

All the tired and worried individuals working our grocery and convenience stores also dealt with many concerns and fears as so many of us rushed to the shelves in search of necessities. Items which I’m sure those employees needed for their own households as well.

Of course, we can’t forget all the different people and organizations who figured out different ways to make hand sanitizer. Let’s face it, it may not have been the best product, but it was a necessity. Something sparked a fire within these individuals to seek those remedies and solutions.

The many different first responders who within their own professions had to acclimate to the new personal protection protocols in order to help and protect us. Yes, US… all of us.

None of these things came easy and without sacrifice. We all had to endure some tough changes and those adjustments came with their own sacrifices to which all of our families had to tolerate and acclimate.

What about the backbone of America? The many small businesses that struggled to provide a safe way of continuing to provide their services. It can be argued that it was for their own survival – but was it really just for their survival? Didn’t we all crave small forms of normalcy throughout all this? Think about it, yes, the small businesses needed to survive and many were not able to, but we needed them just as much.

And through it all, have we proven anything? I venture to say “Yes.”

We ALL struggled together. We ALL did what was necessary to come out of this pandemic as best we could. We have lost so many loved ones in the process and that, too, is a shared experience, a shared loss. Whether we lost someone or not, the fear of doing so was able to impact our lives in ways we had never imagined.

We also ALL came together as a nation. All the spiteful rhetoric from either side of the aisle didn’t keep the truckers at bay when we needed them on the road. It didn’t stop the first responders from doing what they could to help and protect us. It didn’t stop small businesses from trying to provide a service to us all even if it was for their own survival as well. It didn’t keep people from engineering hand sanitizer. It surely didn’t keep professionals from coming up with a vaccine for this virus. Our grocery stores, gas stations, and other convenience stores all did their best to also provide services that could afford us some form of normalcy. Athletes continued to train. Actors continued to provide us with entertainment.

Yes… we all suffered together and yet the most powerful thing that took place through all the burning fires is that we ALL CAME TOGETHER FOR EACH OTHER.

In the end, whether you choose to accept it or not… AMERICA FOUGHT BACK!



We should never forget.

The views expressed here are the writer’s and are not necessarily endorsed by Homeland Security Today, which welcomes a broad range of viewpoints in support of securing our homeland. To submit a piece for consideration, email [email protected]. Our editorial guidelines can be found here.

Sergio A. Tinoco
Sergio A. Tinoco
Sergio A. Tinoco is the author of Proud American: The Migrant, Soldier, and Agent and has joined HSToday as a columnist to provide insights and facts about the conditions, challenges, and humanity of the situation on our southwest border. Tinoco started his journey to America as a poor migrant worker of Mexican descent, having to pick crops for a living from the age of 7. As a way to break from the family cycle of farm labor and depending on government welfare programs, he joined the United States Army and served 10 years on active duty. He deployed to Bosnia-Herzegovina shortly after the Bosnian War only to find and deal with the aftermath of the genocide that took place there and be caught in the middle of several attacks. His experiences in Bosnia ultimately led to experiencing signs and symptoms related to PTSD. After completing 10 years of military service, Sergio joined the U.S. Border Patrol. Being of Mexican descent and having family in South Texas and in Mexico introduced new issues of having to counter threats against his family and ill-willed opinions of him for arresting and deporting “his own kind.” He is currently serving as a Border Patrol agent, and all observations and columns are his own and not endorsed by CBP or the Border Patrol. Sergio A. Tinoco was born and raised in Rio Grande Valley, commonly known to them as RGV. As a child, he had gone through many struggles. Having to come up with a big decision to leave his family behind at such a young age, Sergio began to live a dangerous life in the battlefield with the US Army. Between the Army and the DHS, he has worked in government service for over twenty years. He earned a master’s degree in organizational management. His wife, also a military veteran, works for the Department of Veterans’ Affairs. Together, they strive to provide greater opportunities and aspirations to their kids.

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