With liberty and justice for all.

The state of patriotism in America.

By Debra Reynolds

liberty and freedomAs springtime rolls around each year, I am reminded of so many things that make this country great. One reminder recently came in the form of a birthday card to my son with two postage stamps attached, one proclaiming “Liberty” and the other “Freedom.” The other not so random reminder is baseball. To me, nothing compares to an evening with family and friends watching a ballgame. It is a sport that is steeped in history and tied to the heart of America. Though there are differing historical accounts of when the first rendition of the Star Spangled Banner made its major league debut, our National Anthem has officially been sung in every ballpark in America since 1942. Pride for country was highest during what Tom Brokaw coined “The Greatest Generation.” Time has taken away many from that generation. Has such pride for country suffered the same demise?

The next time you’re at the ballpark taking in America’s pastime, look around during the singing of the National Anthem. You will likely see many with hands covering hearts, hats removed, and either singing along or being respectfully silent. And, you will probably see plenty of people laughing and talking, seemingly oblivious to the celebration of our nation going on around them. And, that’s okay, because in this great country we are free to sing or not sing, be silent or not be silent, remove our hats or not remove our hats, as expressions of the individual freedoms we enjoy as citizens of the United States of America.

Some may ask, “Where are the signs of patriotism in America?” Do we see them at military funerals where certain groups come to protest the very men and women who died fighting for their very right to enjoy liberty and freedom? How about in our schools where most of us originally learned about patriotism? It may be easier to identify where patriotism has eroded. Recitation of the National Anthem in schools has been long seen as an exercise in patriotism for one’s American homeland. School districts across our nation now have laws in place that allow those who wish not to recite allegiance to the American flag to remain respectful of those who do. Additionally, many schools across the nation have laws in place that require time to be set aside every day for the Pledge of Allegiance, again, compelling no one person to participate, but requiring respect of the individuals who do. Indeed, our country was founded on principles of freedom and liberty, both of which are exemplified by the above. This in stark contrast to a bill being proposed in Arizona that would require high school students to take an oath of allegiance including the proclamation “so help me God.” Critics strongly agree that this current version of this bill will likely not pass constitutional muster.

Each year, hundreds of thousands of foreign individuals make the voluntary choice to become a citizen of America. For these newly naturalized citizens, an Oath of Allegiance is required with options for modification based on religious belief and physical disability to stand to take the oath. Our nation was founded on the necessity of recognizing such individual rights. And while there may be options for modification based on religious and other freedoms, no person should be denied the rights this country was founded upon based on another’s disagreement or lack of belief of the same.

Though American patriotism may not be expressed as zealously as it was during the early to mid-20th century, the rights we enjoy living in a free country allow all of us to express our pride for America in ways respectful to those in which we share this land of freedom. One only need look to the recent events in Boston and West, Texas to see that despite our many differences, Americans are still bound by the overwhelming sense of duty that comes with living in the land of the free and the home of the brave.

While cheering for your team this spring, take a moment to recognize your freedom to recite the National Anthem with your family and friends, or your freedom not to. The fact that we have a choice is what makes this a great country and a place where there really can be liberty and justice for all.

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  • Linda Howard

    Thank you for this is a beautifully written and heart-felt article. It is so sad the watch the erosion of patriotism and our Judeo-Christian foundation. I will forever say the pledge loud and clear (with the ‘one nation under God’ and sing the National Anthem with great pride…even if I can’t reach the high notes!

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