Patriot Found





If you know or have read
my history then you realize that, with good reason, I don’t always feel particularly American. And, yet, I possess enough knowledge and wisdom to know I would never abandon or give up my U.S. citizenship. It is an interesting internal conflict. I love the country where I was born and currently reside and, yet, I am often embarrassed or angered by her people or her actions toward one another and the rest of the planet. However, there are moments both profound and frivolous that illicit deeply sincere patriotic feelings within me. Strangely, July 4th … Independence Day … today (or any other year) is not one of those moments. I don’t particularly care for parades. Hot dogs are disgusting. And, I would gladly bid a fond farewell to fireworks for the rest of recorded time.

“You have to love a nation that celebrates its independence every July 4, not with a parade of guns, tanks, and soldiers who file by the White House in a show of strength and muscle, but with family picnics where kids throw Frisbees, the potato salad gets iffy, and the flies die from happiness. You may think you have overeaten, but it is patriotism.” ~Erma Bombeck

Traditional Fourth of July celebrations just don’t “do it” for me. What does? Well, I’m glad you asked.

Voting
My senior year of high school I chose to take American Government as an elective class. Yes, I was still in Kenya. It was, however, an election year. I would graduate from high school in July. In August I would turn 18 (voting age) and be in the United States for university. When November came … I would vote and I was not going in blind. I wanted to understand how the system worked. I wanted to know, without doubt, what made America great and for what, exactly, I was voting. I did vote that year and I have voted in every subsequent major election. I will not take that privilege for granted. And, without fail, I shed a tear or two as I am leaving my local polling station. In that moment … when I have just cast my ballot … despite the outcome … I am damn proud to be an American.

“To make democracy work, we must be a nation of participants, not simply observers. One who does not vote has no right to complain.” ~Louis L'Amour

Sporting Events
A lifetime ago I used to be an athlete and I am, by nature, I highly competitive individual. Greatness in sport is a wonder to behold. The Olympics, in particular, bring out the patriot in me. I am not alone. Look at how we Americans have rallied behind Jesse Owens, Mary Lou Retton, Carl Lewis, Michael Phelps or the 1980 U.S. Ice Hockey Team … Miracle on Ice.

Movie Speeches
Screenwriters are geniuses. Enough said.

Mr. Smith Goes To Washington, Film (1939)


Independence Day, Film (1996)


Eagles
Don’t scoff until you have seen a bald eagle up close … in the wild. Or, even more relevant, when you witness the release of an eagle that was injured and rehabilitated … and share in the freedom it experiences as it spreads its wings fully for the first time in many months and soars into the sky.

Our Military
Have you ever been in an airport when a unit, or even five or six soldiers, stepped off an airplane and was greeted by a few smattering claps that slowly built into a full-blown applause as they proceeded through the airport terminal? I have. It was one of the most profound moments of my life. Forget the politics behind how we, as Americans, end up in conflicts around the globe. My heart cries out every time an American soldier dies protecting our freedom or protecting those who have no one else to protect them. I almost enrolled in the army after my first year of college. In retrospect, I should have done so. I think other countries are right about mandatory military service. There would be more benefits than drawbacks to every able bodied man and woman in this country spending two years in their military branch of choice once turning eighteen. [Please refrain from the hate mail. This is just an opinion.]

Music
In truth, “God Bless the USA” by Lee Greenwood gets me. EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. Then again, I’m not a huge fan of country music but I can sing the lyrics to Toby Keith’s “Courtesy of the Red, White & Blue” as well. But, it would be remiss of me ... on this day … if I did not give you this:



HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY to my fellow Americans.
Remember: We are all in this together.

“There is nothing wrong with America that cannot be cured by what is right with America.” ~William J. Clinton, 42nd President of the United States of America


14 comments:

  1. Well said! Happy 4th!!!

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  2. Wandering through the Memphis airport on my way from bootcamp to a school I had the most delightful older couple offer to buy my lunch--simply because I was wearing my uniform. We sat, ate and I listened as the couple talked about their own Navy experiences. Most of my doubts regarding what I had gotten myself into vanished over that free lunch. They made me proud of my choices, proud of my uniform and proud of my chosen citizenship.

    Most excellent movie choices--I love Frank Capra...a very patriotic man himself (he was Theodore Giselle's Army captain in WWII, making propaganda movies...your wee little useless trivia for the day).

    And, yes, if you do not exercise your right to vote then shout the hell up.

    And I've gone and hijacked your comment section again.:D

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  3. Hm. I think one would have to be an American to get it. Or an Israeli.

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  4. Dori ~ You are always welcome to hijack my comments ... especially when deeply applicable.

    Vincent ~ Yes, I would think it was quite obvious this one was written directly to my fellow Americans.

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  5. Yes, Beth, but my point was meant to expose something deeper.

    In a world of global communications, extremes of patriotism destabilise the common ground, poison the global rivers.

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  6. I got that actually, I merely chose not to address it.

    By the way, my post (and all its contents) is SO FAR removed from EXTREME patriotism. And, be it a little thing, the clip from Independence Day is there for a reason as it speaks clearly to a call for global citizenry ... that we are all one. Fictional? Yes, but relevant and it is not specific to American independence.

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  7. Lip-synced or not, I love the fire in Whitney's rendition of that beautiful song.

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  8. Also, my blog sent me as an emissary to your blog to say that it's author's presence at my blog is.... what's the word.... missed.

    Cheers.

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  9. Hi Beth. I enjoyed reading this posting very much, and am glad that you opted to take some time on July 4th to write it.

    I know what you mean about internal conflict. I have my own deeply held, idealistic vision of America. It's hard to explain -- let's just say something akin to a classical Jeffersonian democracy, but strongly tempered by humanitarian values that serve as the basis for dealings beyond our own borders and outside of the legal obligations of our constitution.

    In my vision, America provides strong moral leadership to the rest of the world (i.e., morality in the sense of human rights and individual liberties), leading by example rather than force, and all economic or political objectives that are ultimately inconsistent with these values are eschewed.

    I think my vision is quaint, sentimental, unrealistic, and largely out of step with much of our historical reality. But that doesn't render it illegitimate in my eyes; rather, it's an ideal to attempt to realize as much as possible while conducting one's own life and affairs as an American.

    I'm not quite sure why I've chosen to bring this up here. Probably because these things are on my mind all the time, and your comments have catalyzed my expressing them. But I wanted to share some of my thoughts and sentiments with you, for whatever they're worth! ~John

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  10. Mo ~ I have been terrible at not only blogging ... but reading other blogs as well. Bad friend. =)

    John ~ Well, for someone who claimed their ideal was "hard to explain" ... you did it very well. I happen to like your "thoughts and sentiments" for everything that they are worth.

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  11. I enjoyed this post because it really got me thinking about my own journey of patriotism.... growing up where I did, I did not have fond feelings towards the US of A but after living here and raising my kids here my perpspective has completely changed. I still have some disagreements with this country as far as various issues go but gosh darn it, when Lee Greenwood belts out that song, CHILLS!!!!! and also looking at all the monuments in DC really gets me every time. Good post!!

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  12. As a non-American I don't get the pre-occupation with the military. I don't know if it is a good or a bad thing, but it is one thing that makes America unique.

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  13. Ah, but there are countries far more obsessed w/ their military than the USA. There are positives and negatives. Having not been raised here... I didn't get it either. For years, the extent of my military pre-occupation was stopping by the American Embassy in Nairobi in order to flirt with the Marines.

    Military service in the USA is not mandatory. For this, I believe, we feel indebted to those who CHOOSE to protect our country. And, yes, it needs protecting.

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"Stranger, if you passing meet me and desire to speak to me, why should you not speak to me? And why should I not speak to you?" ~Walt Whitman

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