What is patriotism?
When 9/11 struck, on a “patriotic” binge we went. Suddenly, to buy a flag became a national event. Every bus, plan and train proudly flew our flag, and we went on a “God Bless America” singing jag. From every car our nation’s flag was flown; flags and banners draped every home. Ads and TV dripped red, white and blue. To fly the flag was the patriotic thing to do. Flagless cars were looked upon with scorn, and foreign cars were not to be so flag adorned. Shirts, hats, and clothes sprouted stars and stripes; even music, decorations, and speeches joined in the hype.
So what is patriotism all about? Is it just flags, songs, and shouts? No. Patriotism is providing services that really count; it’s doing what good citizenship is all about. Patriotism is helping one’s country, like being a grown-up boy scout. Being a good and honest person is a good start. Flag waving is OK, but that’s the easy part. Doing your job well, accepting our laws to obey, volunteering, helping others, this is the way.
When Pearl Harbor struck, some 60years ago, I was a young man working for an oil company producing and exploring for oil in the jungles of Columbia, South America. We were considered an essential industry. Its employees were exempt from the draft. My company pressured me to stay, but I would have none of it. Within a week I resigned and returned to the States to enlist in the U.S. Army. Later I paid dearly for this, with two years in Army and Veteran hospital beds. I never regretted my decision. I knew what I had to do and I did my best. Being patriotic is a lot more than just flag waving, songs, and shouts.
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