Republicans are more patriotic than democrats. That’s what I used to think. I’m not sure why – other than the fact that I like elephants. My mother was/is a democrat. And by no means did I grow up with a silver spoon in my mouth (or hidden in a kitchen drawer somewhere). But I never wanted for anything more than I had – I never wondered if my breakfast cereal would taste better from that said silver spoon. Quite the contrary. I believed with every ounce of my being that I was fortunate – and I believed wholeheartedly that I owed my good fortune, at least in part, to the soldiers.
When I was little – think six or seven – I used to love going through my mom’s old high school yearbooks. I loved seeing pictures of her as a cheerleader, as homecoming queen, as a teenager with bufont hair. She went to a small school somewhere in the middle of Idaho. She knew everyone in her class. And I assumed, for the most part, was friends with most everyone. But. On almost every page there was an X over a boy’s face. A big black X crossing out the young man’s existence. I thought they were boys she didn’t like. I was wrong.
They were the ones killed in Vietnam. They were the ones who never made it back. Who never got to look though their own yearbook with their children. They were the soldiers – some of the very ones that I believed, and still do believe, I owe my good fortune.
I will always say hello to a soldier. Offer them my isle seat on a plane. Offer them a conversation, a smile, a prayer, a thank you. And I don’t care what war they have fought, if they are a democrat or a republican, an airman or a general – when I see a soldier I get a deep rooted sensation in my belly that reminds me how damn proud I am to live in a country where men and women are willing to risk their lives to bring the rest of us our good fortune. And it’s that feeling that defines patriotism. It’s the way you feel when you look at this picture – It’s raw, it’s pure, and it is (I believe) still alive and well in our country.
Today’s post inspired by The Daily Prompt: I Pledge Allegiance – Are you patriotic? What does that mean to you?