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Patriotic Nuance

Independence Day was two weeks ago yesterday . . . did anyone notice? As usual there were fireworks and speeches . . . the President’s speech was, also as usual, a ‘bland’ speech with no fire, no emotion and, most of all, with only a nuance of good old-fashioned patriotism. If I had heard even one fiery, flag-waving, Rah Rah America speech, July 4th might have been more memorable.

It may be the perspective!

A person who moves here to the United States from some other country has perspective and has the ability to contrast and compare the United States with the ‘other place’. I, on the other hand, am a third-generation American so there is no ‘other place’ for me — no basis of first-hand comparison. I don’t even have stories of my parents or grandparents ‘getting off the boat’ at Ellis Island. They, as far as I know, never left American soil.

While in the Navy, I visited many other countries, mostly Asian countries, and was, without exception, happy to return to America. It wasn’t that these countries repulsed me in any way it was just a feeling of discomfort I get when I’m ‘out of my element’ without the requirement for me to stay there for a prolonged period.

So, aside from the ‘comfort’ factor and the ‘perspective’ problem am I proud to be an American and do I love my country?

A resounding YES to both questions but pride and love are emotional issues and I find it hard to intellectualize them. You might say my response to hearing the Star Spangled Banner or watching a military parade and having the flag fly by is an almost Pavlovian reflex of patriotism. Or, you might say my security blanket is red, white and blue with a field of white stars.

Escaping from the emotional; intellectually, I do know that there is no better country on this planet; no other country with our level of freedom and opportunity. I also know how fortunate I am to have been born and raised in this great country. Think about it! A mere quirk of fate could have had me (or you) leading the hard-scrabble life of a farmer in a third-world country or a blind beggar on the streets of Calcutta.

One other thing: I know I would, without hesitation, take up arms and lay down my life for America, whenever and wherever I was needed.

Perhaps that will suffice as patriotism!

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