Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Tiny Habits Of Patriotism

"We are what we repeatedly do." - Will Durant

We all have those moments.

Goose-bump rising
Lump in the throat
Tears in the eye

Moments where our love for country is real and tangible and alive

When I was growing up, very school day began with the Pledge of Allegiance. Standing aside our desks, hands over our hearts and all eyes on the flag, we droned through the single sentence with little apparent passion. But deep inside, I felt the sparks of my own little patriot's heart stir to life.

I'm the littlest Girl Scout, fourth from the left. I was chosen from a large group of girls 
to pose for this photo and my mom was so proud. 

Girl Scouts love flag ceremonies. I listened with hushed reverence as our Brownie troop leader, Mrs. Jarvis, explained flag etiquette and walked us through the particulars of our Court of Honor. White gloves, lit candles, and the careful execution of the triangle fold were all rituals of our weekly meetings and I loved my part of the pageantry. The embers glowed brighter.

With great gusto, my elementary school classmates and I would belt out the great American patriotic standards.

My Country 'Tis Of Thee
You're A Grand Old Flag
When Johnny Comes Marching Home
This Land Is Your Land
The Battle Hymn of the Republic
The Star-Spangled Banner

and my personal favorite, America the Beautiful.

Sometimes, the words were just words and I didn't really understand what I was singing. But often, the lyrics stirred passion in me, and my patriot's heart burst into full flame.

You're the emblem of the land I love, the home of the free and the brave. 

Nowadays, when I hang my flag for a holiday, or stand for the national anthem at a ball game, or note the passing of another anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor,

my eyes unabashedly fill with tears
I get a lump in my throat
goose bumps rise up on my arms
tingles run up and down my back.

The tiny habits of patriotism, performed faithfully over the course of a lifetime, make me who I am today.

An American.

* * * * * 

As I prepare to vote in the hotly contested 2016 presidential election, I find myself reflecting on the moments and milestones of my life that have shaped me as an American citizen and contributed to my worldview today. 

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