Patriotism…Or lack of it

So I’m cleaning out the “My Documents” folder on my work computer and I come across a letter that I had submitted to several news sources, local AND nationwide a few months

back….My anger is still smoldering….I never heard anything back but at least I got this off my chest….Here is the letter I wrote:

I recently attended the commencement ceremonies for the XXXXX High School Class of 2004 and I’m so angry that I felt it necessary to submit some commentary on my fellow Americans. The National Anthem was played at the beginning of the ceremonies and as I stood with my hand over my heart I was mortified when I realized that only a handful of people were committing to ANY kind of acknowledgement. For instance, the group of young ladies behind my wife and I was making small talk about their post-ceremony plans and coordinating their cheering efforts for their graduating family member THE ENTIRE TIME. The row directly ahead of us DID stand but kept their hands in their pockets and other various positions, other than over their hearts. I don’t recall seeing any hats removed or any lull in the conversations. After the completion of the National Anthem, I leaned over to my wife’s cousin and said something along the lines of “have you ever seen such a b

latant disregard for the National Anthem?” and the woman in front of me turned around and said “Oh, oops. I didn’t see anyone else doing anything so I wasn’t sure if I should or not”. UNBELIEVABLE. When exactly did we change from a society who LOVED its veterans to a society who refuses to even acknowledge a service member’s many sacrifices? When did our patriotism begin to hinge on what those around us were doing? Even in the nearly three decades I’ve been on this earth, I have never seen such a disregard for our servicemen and servicewomen until the last couple of years.

According to http://www.usflag.org/flag.etiquette.html, “The pledge of allegiance should be rendered by standing at attention, facing the flag, and saluting. When the national anthem is played or sung, citizens should stand at attention and salute at the first note and hold the salute through the last note. The salute is directed to the flag, if displayed, otherwise to the music.”

There is always some form of social commentary on the evils of George W Bush’s attempts to clean up Iraq even as we are losing our children left and right day in and day out, always someone with something angry to say about the current administration. What do I say to that? It’s fine for you to have that opinion, Mr. John Q Public, but keep in mind that your children are over there fighting and after all is said and done, all they want to know is that you support them where ever they may be. Support is a multi-faceted word, a combination of caring words AND caring actions. Our hearts may be in the right place but we are not putting the appropriate foot forward when it comes to our at-home patriotism. The words and yellow ribbons mean nothing if there is not a whole-hearted effort at showing our appreciation for those young people deployed in various war torn areas of the world.

As a Navy veteran whose ship was dispatched to both Iraq and Kosovo, the danger bonus in my paycheck was nice but it was more important to know that my family and friends believed in me, maybe not the bigger picture necessarily, but in me personally doing my job to the best of my abilities and coming home safely. It seems that a lot of my fellow countrymen are giving the lip service of saying they support the young men and women who are currently serving but will not back up those words with any type of actions. Believe it or not, the National Anthem is an integral part of American patriotism and as such, demands the respect that it once held. Sir, please remove your hat. Ma’am, please stand up. Son, get your hands out of your pockets. Let’s give a refresher course of Patriotism 101. I’d be more than willing to sit through it, because I have forgotten many of the “little things” that mean so much as well.
posted Thu, 10-28-04

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