Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Old Glory warms the Heart

The Fourth of July holiday has always meant several things to me. It has been a time to wish my cousin, who is six days younger, a “Happy Birthday,” a time to eat watermelon with family after swimming at our local lake and a time to spend my allotted amount for fireworks to pop Blackjacks, shoot roman candles and fire screaming missiles into the night by the light of a bonfire.

But my Fourth of July a few years ago held a different importance.

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It was still about family - but also about community togetherness and a time of remembrance. A time to remember all the people who have not only given their lives and have fought and are fighting for our freedom but to remember the loved ones we have lost and those still with us today.

Even looking at our national flag brings a new perspective for me. I have always been patriotic, not only of our country but also of my state of Louisiana as well, so the flag has been significant before I ever waved one at my father’s return from overseas military service during the Persian Gulf War.

Old Glory brought a new image to my mind when I caught my first sight of her outside our nation. I suppose my feelings can be compared to the opening ceremony of the Olympics, when we watch Team USA carry our emblem and the days that follow see our flag and hear our anthem played with each gold medal. It’s national pride. I know we have not forgotten the feeling.

I feel this pride even more when I leave this country and become its unofficial representative abroad. I carry a miniature Stars & Stripes with me when I travel internationally—a reminder of home.

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Our country’s flag has always been an important physical representation of the freedom we experience, but it means so much more when viewed outside our borders. Catching sight of its red, white and blue touches the heart. We see them everywhere here, but in a foreign place it’s that glimpse of home that warms us. Its image may not be a pleasant representation in certain countries, but it is one none-the-less.

I am quite aware of the opposition to Americans from many people of foreign lands and cultures. I expect it. Overseas I have experienced this opposition through opinions on my country, the majority of people’s comments though have not been hostile or even rude. We seemed to see eye to eye for a moment, past our government’s decisions and cultural differences.

That moment is when I become a voluntary diplomat and I hope that one positive glance at our country made a difference. Though I am sure some of the time - and even the  majority of the time - we will not all agree with decisions officials ruling our country make, but we still must hold to our foundation of faith, courage and sacrifice.

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The tradition of patriotism must not die. I am glad there are still Americans today who want to uphold the tradition of honesty, integrity, loyalty and strong moral value, which our country’s foundation was built upon, while we celebrate with family reunions, firework displays, cookouts, picnics and church services. 

I am glad tradition still lives on in my community, my state and in this country. I wish all an enjoyable Fourth of July tomorrow and truly God Bless the USA.

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