Patriotism isn’t dead
My day yesterday began by touring the book depository and grassy knoll in Dallas, TX where JFK was assassinated. I tried to absorb the awesome weight of it all while physically being in the presence of those historic places. Admittedly I was having to stretch myself to feel something more than a dutiful sense of remorse as a good American should. I was intrigued by the conspiracy theories and captivated by the pictures and videos in the museum on the 6th floor of the former depository. But since these events unfolded before I was born I lacked the real ability to feel the outrage and pain a person should while visiting such hallowed ground. That is until I stood in the window right next to the infamous window where Oswald allegedly shot the President. From that vantage I could see crude white X’s painted in the street marking where the bullets found their marks (where ever they originated from). At that moment I quickly and flippantly remarked, “X marks the spot” not comprehending what those X’s represented. Before that little phrase finished leaving my lips, I got it though, and I felt a huge surge of sickness and sadness come over me. It was a powerful image those X’s.
In a few short minutes I found myself in front of the building, with the knoll behind me and the Veteran’s Day parade going by. The marching band was playing the Marine Corp Hymn, flags were waving, and I looked at the time. It was 11:11 on 11/11/11 exactly 11 days prior to the anniversary of JFK’s assassination. Goosebumps erupted in waves across my skin and for the first time on this patriotic day, I felt like crying … But I held it back.
I reflected on why we set aside a day to honor our vets, both living and dead, as I traveled back home by way of a couple of flights across the country. That part of Veteran’s Day has always been real to me as my own father is a Korean War vet and I have several uncles who are Vietnam War vets. More than Independence Day or Memorial Day, Veteran’s Day has always held more personal relevance in my life and I try every year to reflect and contemplate it’s significance.
The final kicker of the day though, the one that made me shed a tear in true gratitude and patriotism, was upon the announcement by the flight attendant just before we exited the plane, that we had an active duty serviceman on board and we should all show our support by giving him a cheer. When he stood up, he so closely resembled my own son (and he must have been about the same age) that I realized the true cost of our freedom. I felt it quite painfully real. It’s not our ancestors who’ve fought and died or historical events that stir an honest sense of sadness and patriotism in me. It’s the thought that boys (that could be my own little boy) are giving their lives for me and people they don’t even know. They are bravely fighting wars to keep us safe and to keep events like Pearl Harbor, Kennedy’s tragic death, and 911 from happening again. I felt a mother’s pain and pride when that boy – no – MAN in uniform stood up and removed his hat in appreciation of our cheers.
God bless the USA and God comfort all the grieving mothers whose sons and daughters will never come home from the fight!!!