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True patriotism lies within heart, beliefs

May 26, 2010 | 07:51 AM
I have long believed that those who serve or have served in the U.S. military are more patriotic than those who have not.

Those who have served better understand the sacrifices made to preserve freedom. They recite an oath to protect freedoms and all the people who live under the Constitution of the United States of America. They vow to do whatever it takes to defend those very principals no matter where they are sent throughout the world.

As the world and our place in it changes before our eyes, it is important to remember the importance of patriotism. To those who have served or currently serve, it's not just felt in certain circumstances. It's a belief that this country is the greatest of all and everything must be sacrificed in order to preserve that belief.

The definition of patriotic is simple: a love for your country inspired through feeling or expression.

Although that is a simple phrase, everything else about being patriotic or having patriotism is much more complex.

Patriotism isn't validated by saying the Pledge of Allegiance or singing the National Anthem louder or better than the person next to you. It's not about waving a flag for a few minutes on Memorial Day or the Fourth of July, either. Patriotism isn't only about understanding and enjoying your freedoms and rights.

True patriotism is about the willingness to sacrifice every day of our lives for those very principles that we all live under.

"What do we mean by patriotism in the context of our times? I venture to suggest that what we mean is a sense of national responsibility ... a patriotism which is not short, frenzied outbursts of emotion, but the tranquil and steady dedication of a lifetime." Adlai E. Stevenson

Raising your hand and stating the oath to defend the country is the most patriotic action anyone can make.

Each of the men and women who enlist in the United States military take this oath. It embodies the reasons they are willing to sacrifice their lives for this country. For those of us who have taken this oath, it is special and exemplifies true patriotism in all senses of the word.

"I do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God."

For many years, Americans have celebrated Memorial Day as a way to honor those who took that oath and then fought and died to preserve our way of life.

On May 5, 1868, Gen. John Logan established a day of remembrance for those soldiers who died during the Civil War. May 30, 1868, was the day designated for this observance and flowers placed on the graves of the fallen soldiers of both the Union and Confederate armies. New York was the first state to officially recognize the observance in 1873 as Decoration Day.

In 1971, the National Holiday Act designated it as Memorial Day and set it for the last Monday of May.

On Monday, Memorial Day, we should honor every person who has donned the uniform to protect and fight for freedom and the United States of America. We should honor the soldiers who died to ensure we remain a free people and those who have died trying to help people in other parts of the world experience the same freedoms we do. We also honor the men and women serving today in ever part of the world as they battle for us and against oppression.

Thanks to all the soldiers currently in uniform. Thanks to those who have served valiantly and of course to all those no longer with us. You are true patriots.

Seiser is the editor of the Regional News and a former member of the U.S. Army Reserve.

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