I am a flag-waving patriot, for which I make no apology. Indeed, it seems odd that I even feel the need to offer that ridiculous qualifier, but I do feel compelled to say as much.
Old Glory flies over the front porch of my Princeton, Texas home. It comes down if the weather threatens to get too windy; I don’t want the wind to rip the flag off the holder my son bolted into the brick and mortar for my wife and me.
Where am I going with this? The nation celebrates its 247th birthday on Tuesday. So-called phony patriots have been in the news over the past recent years, proclaiming themselves to love our country while standing under the Stars and Bars banner, the symbol of the Confederate States of America, the organization that declared war against the government in 1861.
Enough about them.
I stand by my flag and my nation because I was taught, primarily by my father, to honor the country and to serve the country if it calls your name. Dad served his nation with honor and heroism when, on Dec. 7, 1941, we were attacked by a foreign power. He enlisted that day in the Navy and in about a month was on his way into the fight of his life — and the fight of the nation’s life.
A generation later, my country called on me to don the uniform. I joined the Army and served with far less heroism than Dad did. However, the lessons I learned as a boy carried me through a couple years of active duty, including a stint in Vietnam.
I grew weary long ago of the faux patriotism of those who literally wrap themselves in the flag of our great nation. Our pride in our country isn’t about a piece of cloth. It is about the principles on which the founders created the nation.
They founded a nation on one principle in particular, which is the freedom to dissent, to protest government policy. We do so peacefully — most of the time! I am OK with that. Hell, I have protested my government’s policy at times myself.
It doesn’t make me love my country any less. It makes me love it even more. It also enables me to wish my country a heartfelt happy birthday as it approaches one more Independence Day.
Happy birthday, America. I love you more than I can express.