In tribute to all those whose full measure of devotion was required
11 September 2013 Patriots’ Day in the U.S.A.
Dr. Ross L. Riggs
All across the nation today there will be blogs written, such as this one, remembering 9-11 and calling for Americans to stand tall against those who would declare themselves an enemy of this great Republic. Like many, I found it disheartening how soon after 9-11 the flags stopped flying from almost every porch in America and how soon the echoes of those in prayer for our country and its people, its soldiers, seemed to fade.
Did you know that a person can be a patriot when he or she stands strong on behalf of their country and that they can also be a patriot when they stand strong against their government? Allow me to quote from a most hallowed source, Dictionary.Com.
1. a person who loves, supports, and defends his or her country and its interests with devotion.
2. a person who regards himself or herself as a defender, especially of individual rights, against presumed interference by the federal government. (http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/patriot?db=dictionary)
A person who loves and supports and defends both the country and its interests with devotion is a patriot. Look carefully at that sentence because it speaks volumes. The article ‘or’ is only in one place in that sentence, between his and her, nowhere else. It is not a person who loves or supports his or her country. It is not a person who loves and supports just his or her country but the country and its interests. I find that interesting for a couple of reasons, not the least of which is a question that comes to my mind. Who determines a country’s interests? For example, are America’s interests inclusive of strong traditional marriage or the ‘I can marry anyone I love’ type of marriage? Who determines what America’s interests are? I’m not going to argue that here; it is just a question that came to mind. Who gets to make those choices?
So, back to the first definition: the patriot loves, supports and defends (all three) that would mean that a person who claims to love America and support America but fled to Canada in the 1960’s does not qualify as a patriot. I can agree with that. Whether you do or not matters little here because, quite frankly, I’m the author. You can write your own blog. But notice there is yet another qualifier in that first definition… “with devotion.” What does that mean, exactly? Someone once explained to me that a hen is devoted to giving us something of her so we can have a healthy breakfast. A pig, on the other hand, is committed to it. That may seem like semantics, unless of course, you are the pig.
Dictionary.Com informs us that devotion is “profound dedication; consecration” and even “earnest attachment to a cause or person, etc.” What that means is that we all know what ‘devotion’ is; we just cannot explain it without using other modifiers that are also undefinable; but somehow we just know devotion when we see it.
The second definition of ‘patriot’ is “a person who regards himself as a defender, especially of individual rights against presumed interference by the federal government.” Here is where I think the article “OR” can go… You can be a patriot devoted to your country OR you can regard YOURSELF as a defender, sticking up for the individual, which in this case probably would also be YOURSELF, against the big bad federal government. For some reason, I think perhaps that Dictionary.Com understands the distinction between a Patriot and a patriot. One flies the American flag, if not every day, at least on all holidays; and in the meantime if it is stored, it is stored properly. The patriot is probably running around with cardboard license plates because he doesn’t have to do what the government says! He’s an amurican! – but only in an individual sort of way.
A True Patriot is regarded by others, who know him or her, as a Patriot. Most true patriots probably think very seldom of themselves. They are usually looking out for their families, their neighbors, their co-workers, the sick, the elderly, the infirm, and the orphaned. They are the ones out for a walk and just out of habit, reach down and pick up that piece of litter someone else threw and they carry it until they find the right place to drop it. The true patriot not only makes it to the voting polls each time but maybe volunteers there or calls someone they know who might need a ride to get to the polls.
A true patriot stands, if he is able, when the flag passes. He or she has a hand over their heart during the anthem at a ball game, not ordering a hot dog. He or she probably will shed a tear when they see a wounded vet and they may just haul off and punch some punk that belittles that vet in some way. I know a patriot, a true one. Actually, I know several but the one I’m thinking of never had a chance to serve in the military, although he would have liked to. He gets really steamed when he sees anyone act in a demeaning way toward the symbols of our nation.
Dictionary.Com actually has a third definition of a patriot. It does begin with a capital ‘P’. It has a range of 37 miles and carries a 200 pound warhead. On this Patriots’ Day I seek to honor all those who have given their full measure of devotion to our great country. America is exceptional and I thank God for each of you and your families. I wish for you this holiday that you will find something about our country that makes you smile. I have another wish as well. I would like all of the enemies of our beloved United States of America to have an opportunity to meet a true patriot, whether it is one whose heart proudly beats for America or one that travels up to 37 miles to release a 200 pound warhead!
May God bless America and may America bless God!