I remember 2 1/2 years ago, down to the very taste in my mouth and the angst and nausea that followed. And it was not even I who found myself suddenly threatened by a life-altering disease.

It was mid-February 2015, and my dad stood by the washing machine removing his snow-soaked outer layers in preparation for a hot bath. We had just dug our way out of the latest New Hampshire blizzard — I was on leave from school that semester — and finished clearing our long, steep driveways to allow my mom, returning home from work in Boston, to drive up and exit her car safely.

The irony is ripe for the picking: the armed, militant protesters at the Malheur Wildlife Refuge in rural Oregon waved American flags as they relinquished their posts after a forty-day standoff with federal officials, decrying government overreach while at the same time waving a flag that represents the institution they denounce. The four hold-outs, three men and a woman, left the refuge the same way they arrived — on roads created by the U.S.