Every kid (mine especially) will tell you their parents made a lot of mistakes. I look back on my childhood with mostly positive memories. But the memories that buzz my buttons the most are the times that my parents taught me to be a proud American. It wasn’t preached or lectured or even overtly taught. It was just there – an ever-present example.
I remember once as a kid when my Dad got home from work on a Monday that he and Mom began speaking in partial sentences, completing each others’ thoughts. They never did that, so I was buffaloed. They were also obviously upset, so I was very curious, too. I hung with it long enough to figure out the problem. Dad always hung the flag out on Sundays. That Monday morning as he was pulling out of the driveway and Mom was looking out the window to wave goodbye, they both saw the flag still in its holder. It had been out all night, in the dark. I heard them say things about “heart sinking” and “feeling sick,” and I wondered: “What’s up with these people?” I didn’t get the issue, but I logged the experience.
Another day, a news bulletin came on the tv. Those were a big deal in those days. I ran and got Mom and she hurried out, standing in front of the tv and listening. I heard something about “Eisenhower” and knew whoever it was had died. Then I heard former president so I knew who he was. I looked up at Mom to see if I could turn the tv off now and was shocked to see tears slowly sliding down her face. She didn’t even know this man.
There are so many more: Dad bristling when a hippie couple in a park concert didn’t stand during the National Anthem, teaching me how to do a real salute, the flag out on all appropriate holidays and on Sundays, stories of the Marine Corps, his reaction when a color guard was present, and just general conversational remarks that took it for granted that we were proud and respectful of our flag and our country.
It took, let me tell you. It’s Memorial Day and I’m all teary over the reason for the day. My granddaughter and I hung the flag out this morning. When I watch a military fly-over, I’m just a lump of weepy goo. And when on the radio they replayed President Reagan’s speech on the anniversary of the shuttle disaster, I came close to having to pull the car over.
So I thank my parents. I thank my kids for picking up the mantle. I thank all the men and women that we are remembering this day. I thank their families. And I thank God I live in a country that it’s easy to thank God for.
Truly – God bless America.