What is a patriot? Do you consider yourself a patriot? When was the last time you read or reread the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights? Do you ever refer to these documents when you state your political opinions? Do these documents matter in 2017?
Historian, Vietnam veteran, and Director of the Piqua Public Library, James C. Oda, writes, “How American has defined a Patriot has changed over the years. During the American Revolution it was an individual who came out against George III. During most of the nineteenth century, a Patriot was an individual who fought against the enemies of the United States. During the first half of the twentieth century it was someone who supported the United States government. During the last half of the twentieth century and the beginning of the twenty-first century, a Patriot usually had a specific political view but still was supportive of America.
“A Patriot loves their home. A Patriot supports their neighbors whether they be: down the street,/From sea to sea or,/around the world.”
Harry Ashburn, a World War II veteran who served in deadly battles in the Philippines, writes, “I grew up in what Ted Koppel has called the ‘Greatest Generation.’ I think his description stems from our living, serving, and surviving two of our most trying times in American history- the Great Depression and World War II.
“It grieves me to see what I believe to be a genuine downward trend in love for our country, especially from a large number of extremely-coddled athletes and entertainers who receive millions of dollars for contributing nothing of value to our society other than amusement and participation in kids’ games.”
Korean War combat veteran Weldon Oakley believes that “If you just go around any neighborhood and see an American flag flying at a home, more than likely it’s a veteran who has seen how other countries are and that makes them appreciate that they were born in this country. They, like me, might have seen little orphans walking roads like I saw in Korea.
“ Personally, I believe history ought to be taught more in school so that when youngsters see a flag at a veteran’s home, they start connecting and wondering where those veterans were and why they fly their flags. I pray every night and thank God that I live in this country.”
Lou Hart, a Vietnam combat veteran, indicates that “It was quite a shock when as Vietnam veterans we were told not to wear our military uniforms in the U.S., kind of rough. And it’s a shock to me today when I’m in the grocery store wearing my Vietnam cap, and a little kid comes up to me and says, ‘Thank you for your service.’”
Hart fears that in “five years civics won’t be taught in our schools,” and “I’m not looking forward to seeing my great grandchildren involved in a world conflict. It’s time we pulled ourselves together as a country and remember how far we’ve come in 300 years and know that we’re going to have to work just as hard in upcoming years.”
Another Vietnam combat veteran says that he was spit on, called “baby killer” and other names he won’t even repeat. Steven Skinner reports, “In 1965, a bright-eyed, naïve kid spent his first night in a country called Vietnam. That kid came home not the same. The biggest trial was the way we were treated. It seemed as if it were a curse to be a veteran. Time does heal wounds, and today it is such a privilege to be a vet. May the 58,250 who did not return from Vietnam , America’s finest, forever rest in peace as well as all those American military men and women who died before them and have died since.”
U.S. Coast Guard Vietnam Era veteran Ted Jones reviews the history of this country before declaring, “Our country continues to depend upon our all-volunteer armed forces. They keep the world safer for us. We all sleep better knowing that they maintain the vigil for us. They do so unselfishly and with a high degree of confidence … and we are not subjected to the strife and chaos that is so prevalent in other parts of the world.
“Patriots demonstrate a high degree of self-worth and believe in the sanctity of life. Patriots want to protect and defend us against all forms of tyranny so that we can enjoy our God-given freedoms as provided in our Founding Fathers’ documents.”
Captain Daniel Hance, U.S. Army and Iraq War veteran proclaims that a Patriot is “not the defending Super Bowl Champions (whose only kryptonite is my New York Football Giants). As a current U.S. Army Commander and combat Veteran myself, I have to (painfully) say that, at present, the American patriot is a quickly dissipating brand. And that is a true travesty. The bravest of the brave, the most selfless, situationally aware, and, truly, the best amongst us, is the American Patriot… and that’s why we must, as a united society, resurrect this, the most prominent and best of our brands.”
Back to the original question: Are you a patriot? Do you do anything positive to demonstrate your patriotism? A few suggestions: Support legislation that benefits the military and veterans; Adopt a lonely veteran at your local VA or in your neighborhood and visit that person regularly. If appropriate, take your pooch with you; Display photos of family members who are veterans in your home and learn about their service so that when someone asks about them, you can do more than say, “I think”; Donate items that were a part of the veterans’ lives in your family to museums where they can be shared. Museums are not-for-profit and can always use monetary donations which are tax-deductible as well as donations of your time; Send Care packages to friends and neighbors who are serving; Communicate regularly with your veteran who is serving;
Vietnam Era veteran Robert Castillo says, “Give your great seat on the plane to a veteran” and “Buy a meal for a veteran at the restaurant. And don’t make a big deal of it by calling attention to yourself and your generosity.”
In conclusion, Vietnam combat veteran Carl DeSantis wants all veterans and active military to know, “We salute you for the boldness you demonstrated/demonstrate in the face of treachery. Patriots Day — a day every September when we pay tribute to our defenders of liberty whom we treasure for giving us our freedom and security as Americans.”
Vivian Blevins is a consultant for the Training Solutions Group Inc. who teaches courses in writing and literature for major telecom company employees. Reach her at (937) 778-3815 or firstname.lastname@example.org.