A friend responded/commented to my facebook post a few days ago, wherein I was disgruntled by the noise from fireworks and my dog's reaction to them. Mainly, that my dog likes to either hide in the bathtub, or curl upon my head, forging some silent battle against the good of my hair and the evil of the loud noise. My facebook friend posed the question as to the level of patriotism in our great nation - "Are those shooting off late night fireworks doing so as a sign of patriotism", or enticed into disturbing the peace because they have over done their libations?
This got me to thinking about what the word patriot is defined as and why some find the week leading up Independence Day a perfect time in which to shoot off fireworks at all hours. Is a patriot defined as someone who drink Samuel Adams beer, or someone who recognizes that freedom really isn't free? Is a patriot someone who understands the meaning behind Thomas Paine's Common Sense or spends Ben Franklins on fireworks? Is a patriot someone who likes Madison, as in little sugar cakes or someone who gives a few Hamiltons to the VFW? Is a patriot someone who likes Oh Henry bars or instead, put a George Washington in the church offerings on a weekly basis? Can someone tell me who the founding fathers of this great country were? I know who they are, but the question is, do you?
"Do you want to know who you are? Don't ask. Act! Action will delineate and define you." These are the words of Thomas Jefferson, one of our founding fathers. So, if this is to be held accurate and sound, one can conclude that people setting off fireworks at 0200, in the middle of the street, while heavily intoxicated are nothing more than fools. Patriots? Hardly. Fools? Most assuredly.
"Is freedom about hot dogs and fireworks", my brother asked today. I suppose that to some in this country, who have no idea as to how they acquire their freedoms, such a speech, living in a democracy, etc., then indeed, Independence Day is about beef on the grill, soda, potatoes, alcohol and acting like idiots late into the night. Ask a soldier sitting in a red dirt foxhole in the middle of Iraq, and you will probably get a different reaction.
So, who is a patriot? Can it be the homeless bloke on the street, down on his luck? How about the single mother living in Van Nuys, CA, working hard to make ends meet? Maybe a patriot is someone who plays professional baseball, or the fan who sits in the stands, watching the game. Perhaps a patriot is the family man who mows his lawn on Sundays, and then watches as the family pet takes a shit right next to the children's swing set. All of the above can be patriots. Again, we ask, who is a patriot?
A patriot is someone who loves their country. Respects the laws of the land. Respects all the citizens within her borders. The patriot holds his hand over his heart when the National Anthem is played. A patriot considers it a privilege, not a burden to vote. A patriot is someone who thinks that the Pledge of Allegiance is important, in its entirety, without omission of "one nation under God". These are the songs of patriotism in this great nation.
On this day, when our country recognizes and celebrates the gift of freedom, we, as Americans, should be showing tribute to the men and women of our Armed Forces who gave their lives for us so that we might be able to enjoy all that America has the potential to give. There is a lady who stands in a harbor, as a beacon to those who have come to this country, LEGALLY, to grab the gold ring of democracy, just as my father did so long ago. Patriots come in all colors, shapes, sizes, religious affiliations, political parties and ethnic backgrounds. So long as a man or woman holds close the principles of freedom, they are a patriot.
"And I'm proud to be an American, where at least I know I'm free. And I won't forget the men who died, who gave that right to me. And I'll proudly stand up next to you and defend her still today, 'cuz there ain't no doubt I love this land, god bless the USA." ~ Lee Greenwood