Thinking Out Loud by Connie Schaeffer: A day to display our patriotism

Every year we celebrate American Independence Day on the 4th of July and this year will be no exception. Our great nation will be celebrating its 238th birthday. It is always a treat to have a day off to kick summer into high gear. For a lot of families it means heading to the Jersey Shore, grabbing some thrills at Dorney Park or perhaps visiting the Kutztown Folk Festival. It’s a day for an old fashioned picnic, eating ice cream and watching some spectacular fireworks after the sun sets.

Long before the 4th arrives, I have already gone to the effort of hanging the red, white and blue bunting on the porch. This patriotic display includes American flags and colorful pinwheels. This is my personal way to publically display my patriotism.

The question I ask myself is why do I insist from Memorial Day through the 4th of July that these displays are in place? It isn’t something I put a whole lot of effort into decision making – it is really part of the fabric of my life being a patriot.

I grew up here in Kutztown and I can remember every morning beginning in elementary school, we pledged allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and sang songs like “My Country Tis of Thee,” “America, the Beautiful,” “Yankee Doodle,” “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” along with our “National Anthem.” We also prayed in school because we believed and were taught that we were one nation under God. Things sure are different now as God has been pushed out of the schools, the flag pledge is optional and prayer is tolerated once a year at See You at the Pole.

In addition to my outside display of patriotism, I have several flag pins and have a variety of red, white and blue tee shirts and hats. I am married to a vet of the Vietnam War and my father proudly served in the navy during WWII. I spent 17 years of my life being a part of the Air Force community raising two military brats. I wholeheartedly support our troops whether active, reserves, retired or disabled vets. I attend military parades and proudly wave my flag and give vets a shout out whenever I encounter them by saying: “Thank you for serving.”

I love my country and value its Constitution. I love my freedoms and don’t ever want to take them for granted. I love that the foundation of this country was built on Godly principles. I admire that the founding fathers of this nation had vision and wanted to secure “life liberty and the pursuit of happiness” for all its citizens.

I admire and respect that there was a Declaration of Independence. I think it is important for us to declare our love for this country in a world where political correctness challenges us daily. Our country does have flaws. We do have government leaders that aren’t leading with honesty and integrity. Years ago I vividly remember that even if you weren’t going to church, you still upheld a certain code of morality and ethics. There has been a shift, there is a battle going on around us; we must take a stand for what is good and right and noble and just.

I have spent time in other countries experiencing and observing firsthand what injustice, poverty, AIDS and organized crime looks like and the impact it has on those societies. I have seen and held the orphans, walked through concentration camps and prayed with the hopeless, downcast and disenfranchised. I have come to realize despite all our flaws and warts, there truly is no place like home. Despite what we might perceive as wrong in our country, it is always good to be grateful for what we do have when so many have so little in the way of material things and little to no freedoms.

If Patriotism is defined as the love people feel for their country; then call me a patriot! I distinctly remember immediately following the horrific events of the 9-11 that this country rose up with a great shout of patriotism. Everywhere we turned, we saw flags flying at homes and businesses. Flags were attached to car windows and pinned to lapels. People started filling up places of worship and being kinder to one another. I experienced National Pride in a way I never had before or since. It gave us hope amidst conflict, tragedy and a time of uncertainty. We need that kind of loyalty; we need one another. We need to acknowledge “in God we trust.” It is important to support our troops and be grateful we can sleep at night knowing there are men and women on watch; patriots who are willing to lay down their very lives.

The 4th of July is the perfect time to affirm what we believe and be grateful for what we have. “God bless America, land that I love, stand beside her and guide her through the night with the light from above.” It’s been awhile since I wore my flag pin, I think it is time for this patriot to dig it out and wear it. I think it is OK to display our National Pride any day of the year, not just the federal holidays, but that’s just me thinking out loud.

Connie Schaeffer is a resident of Kutztown and enjoys reading, writing, but not arithmetic.