Yesterday in church we were greeted from the pulpit by our ecclesiastical leader. He welcomed us and announced that The Star-Spangled Banner would be our opening hymn.
(Now, I know that many religions stand when they sing. We generally don't. Sometimes during an extra long meeting we will stand during a rest hymn to give people a chance to stretch. But generally we remain seated.)
As he made this announcement my mind began working. I think we're supposed to stand when we sing the national anthem. Aren't we supposed to stand? I want to stand. I don't want to be the only one who stands. I hope people stand.
I looked up and in the front of the room two young men stood. These are fine young men. Devoted scouts. Dedicated to service. Evident patriots. They didn't wait to see if others would stand; they chose to lead. They knew they should stand and would do so whether anyone else joined them or not. Soon everyone was standing.
As we all stood together, singing our national anthem, I felt proud. I felt unified. I felt patriotic.
When I was young we said the Pledge of Allegiance every day at school. In high school not only did we say the pledge on many occasions, but since I was in the marching band I also played the national anthem several times each football and basketball season. I felt patriotic.
When I go to parades, scout meetings, or funerals where the flag is displayed I stand and place my hand over my heart. I feel patriotic.
I love the fourth of July, Independence Day. I love paying homage to all those who made our country possible. I have tender feelings for those in the armed forces as well as civil servants.
But in that moment in church, where I have so many friends, I did not want to stand alone. And I feel a little ashamed of myself for it.
How do you measure patriotism? Is it what you feel or what you do?
I think that's a tough question. I think it's kind of like defining a person's faith. We look and we see so we think that we know. We see each other's behavior and think we know if someone is a patriot. But would you want someone to judge whether you were a patriot or not based on just what they see? How do you judge what's in a person's heart?
Obviously, it comes down to not judging others. A tough thing to do, but so important.
Today, I feel like a patriotic person. I feel like there is room for growth, but my intent is good. I love my country. I am glad I am here. I am grateful for all it affords me. And I will try harder to find opportunities to stand up for my country.
And I imagine that people all over the world feel the same way about their countries. That they are patriots. Like me.