June 1968 was a special time for my father. It’s been 50 years since my father flew home from Vietnam, a war that was less than popular and those that came home safe were underappreciated. Although it was a difficult time for my father and many others coming home from war, it made him who he is today, one of the most patriotic men I know! Over the years he’s instilled in me the importance of being patriotic.
Patriotism. A word in today’s world that is being questioned. What does it truly mean to be patriotic? By definition, patriotism is love for or devotion to one’s country. So, how does one show patriotism? For some it may be raising a flag every morning, for others it’s standing, removing their hats and placing their hand over their hearts for our National Anthem. In today’s world, just small acts like these can be some of the most controversial things to do, but should they be?
As a veteran, my father has a love for our country that only a veteran can understand. I can’t even imagine what my father went through in Vietnam. But, his love for his country grew stronger and continues to grow every day. Lately, with all of the controversial topics, you find out who truly understands patriotism. When the National Anthem is sung, you sing it how it should be sung, don’t go making it your own and getting all fancy. Our National Anthem isn’t a time for you to show off, it’s a time to take your God given gift to show your patriotism.
And the big topic still today, kneeling for the flag. The American flag is a symbol of hope, strength, courage and faith and we stand to honor it. There are many that feel that our National Anthem and raising of the flag is a time to let their voice be heard, but is it really? Do you kneel when you honor a veteran being announced at a sporting event? No, you stand to honor them.
To veterans, like my father, the flag is an important symbol — hope, strength, courage and faith — four values that can easily define what it means to be in the military, and so when a soldier dies in war or a veteran passes away, they are laid to rest with the American flag draped over their coffin. The flag symbolizes those four values in which each member of the military carries within them. The first time I experienced seeing a ceremonial flag draped over a coffin, folded and handed over to a grieving family member with a 21-gun salute and Taps playing in the distance, was for my grandfather back in 2014, it gave me chills, that was the first time the meaning of patriotism really sank in, because the true meaning of love for your country is putting your life on the line.
To both of my grandfathers, my father and every veteran, thank you for your patriotism.