NASA photo by Neil Armstrong

Opinion: America was and is great, Governor Cuomo. Here's some proof.

Eric Dehm
August 16, 2018 - 2:05 pm

I grew up a couple minutes from New York and lived in the Empire State for quite a while after I left the service. I graduated from college there, got married there, and my son was born there. While it has issues, I think New York is a pretty great place. From the jaw-dropping scale and pace of NYC to the beauty of the Adirondacks, New York's got a lot of great things to do and see. It's a great part of our great country. 

NY governor Andrew Cuomo has gone on record about how great New York is, but now he's also on record that the country New York is a part of not only isn't great... but in his opinion never was. I'm sure he'll backtrack on it at some point, but he said it and he seemed to mean it.  

There are countless ways to refute what is, in my humble opinion, an asinine statement. But considering who I am and what I do, I'll stay in my lane and stick to what our military and veterans have done that shows the greatness of our country and those who are lucky enough to call it home. It's a long list, so I'll just cut it down to 5 instances involving those who served that help to illustrate just how great America has been and still is. 

1. D-Day

USMC photo by Cpl. Kevin Payne

Americans led the way as the push into mainland Europe began in earnest. Over 2,800 Americans gave their lives that day not only for their country but for the people of Europe as well. They knew the nightmare they were up against and confronted it head-on. Why? Because it needed to be done, and it was the right thing to do. A country that isn't great doesn't produce citizens willing to face death to defend not just the country itself, but those being oppressed as well. We've done it several times. 

2. Apollo 11

NASA photo by Neil Armstrong

On July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong, a US Navy vet, set foot on the moon. He and Buzz Aldrin planted the American flag there, and it remains to this day. How many other countries did that? None. Our scientists, our astronauts, our manufacturers. They were all simply better than everybody else's. That seems pretty great all around.

3. Operation Unified Assistance

U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Val Gempis

The Indian Ocean Tsunami of 2004 slammed into the coastlines of the region on 26 December. The first aspects of the U.S. Military arrived on 28 December, with many more to follow. Navy ships, along with embarked Marine units, arrived on the scene to mobilize their capabilities including fresh water production, medevacs, supply drops, SAR ops and deployable medical teams/facilities. The Air Force had C-5s, C-17s, and C-130s running airlift ops non-stop providing much-needed supplies. 12,600 American military personnel were involved in assisting Indonesia during the operation, a country where the US, at the time, was looked upon favorably by only 18% of the population. Compare that to Osama Bin Laden, who was viewed favorably by over 50% of the population. We helped people who thought we were worse than one of the evilest men in history.

4. Team Rubicon in Haiti, Texas, etc. 

Photo courtesy Team Rubicon

There are many vet groups doing amazing things, Team Rubicon comes to mind for me first. They are a shining example of what makes America great: those who served, continuing to serve not just their fellow Americans, but anyone who needs help. They charge into disaster areas just as fiercely as they once charged into battle.

5. Hazara Qala, Afghanistan

US Navy Photo by MC1 Eric Dehm

This one won't ring any bells for anyone, but I can assure you it happened, as I was there. In fact, I took that picture above. The lifeblood of this small village in northern Afghanistan is the stream that runs through it you see in that picture. The river allowed the people of Hazara Qala to operate a small mill and provided water for washing clothes, drinking and so on. In 2011, that lifeblood also became the biggest threat to the village as it eroded the river banks to within feet of houses and the village mosque. When they let the 10th Mountain Division's artillery battery in nearby Qaisar know, the soldiers sprang into action bringing temporary barriers to put in place while a long-term solution was devised. This wasn't in exchange for information, nor was it because the village was of any particular importance, nor was there a big media push on what they were doing besides some pictures and a brief article from yours truly, and only because I stopped over in Qaisar on my way to Meymaneh, and asked what was going on that day. No, it's because the American soldiers wanted to help and it was one of the countless instances of the great things we did for our fellow Americans, and others, during my 13 years in uniform.

Is everything America does perfect? No. Is every American great? Nope. Are there negatives in our history? Sure are. A bunch of them. But my country's overall track record of accomplishments and actions, including these 5 examples, has shown time and again that it is indeed a great nation and in my opinion the greatest.

It's astounding, and a bit infuriating, that the Governor of the great state of New York seems to not recognize what is for nearly all of his fellow Americans an obvious fact.