July 4th 2008
Every time I see the American flag it produces a feeling of solemnity as opposed to national pride. Yes I feel national pride for the values that it represents, but the solemnity comes from knowing that the flag represents a promise. A promise that must be kept, and believing that promise is the basis of our patriotism.
The Charlatans will tell you that freedom and democracy can be trimmed back in times of trouble. They will wrap themselves in the flag, the church, or any other excuse they can find, and tell you that “It’s all for your own good” Don’t believe it, stealing the people’s freedom is never for their own good. They will also tell you that letting go of your precious freedoms is patriotism. It is not!
The more I see, and the older I get, the more I realize that we are a unique culture. If we believe that statement we must ask ourselves why. Why are we unique? There are other countries that have built viable societies. There are those countries that are presently competing in every sphere of activity. Great innovations are coming out of the laboratories and factories of numerous countries, even after we have laid them waste with military conquests.
Yet I maintain that we are unique. There are some obvious signs of our special place in the world. One of them is our great diversity. Our people’s places of origin represent almost every region in the world. If there is a nationality or a tribe anywhere in the world, then chances are we can find some members of that society among us. All of them are Americans. You might say we have become a new tribe. A tribe that cannot be identified by the color of our skin, or our religious beliefs. And there is a common patriotism that binds us all.
Sometimes we have to remind ourselves that this free society was hard won. Not by us, who were born here, unless you consider being born, difficult. And yes, some of us have shouldered a rifle, or commanded a Cost Guard vessel, or dropped into a fire zone, in the pursuit of preserving this nations freedoms, but the real test was from those who founded this nation. We, at least, have seen what America is, and we think it is worth preserving. The original patriots were fighting for a dream.
One more thought on patriotism. Mark Twain once said. “A patriot supports his country all of the time, and supports the government whenever they deserve it.”
Happy Birthday America!