Where Has Our Patriotism Gone?

Fireworks Pops on the River

Last night my family and I went to Pops on the River in Little Rock to enjoy the largest fireworks display in the state. Matt and I had gone every year before we had children, and I was excited to finally be brave enough to take the kids, 7 and 3, for the first time.

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We were excited about the fireworks show with the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra playing in the outdoor amphitheater, but my best memory of past years was when the orchestra would play the anthem of each branch of our military, and past and present soldiers from that branch would stand.

Like a photograph, my mind captured a beautiful moment over a decade ago when “The Army Goes Rolling Along” played and two men in front of me, rows apart from one another, stood. One was a young man and the other could have been a World War II vet. Tears clouded my eyes. The crowd gave a heartfelt clap for these men as everyone sat respectfully absorbed in the moment.

This year was different. As the anthems were played hardly anyone around me took notice. I watched the crowd and most everyone was on their cell phones. Not that I have any room to be judge…ahem.

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Four hours was a long time to wait for the sun to go down, but I assure you when “The Army Goes Rolling Along” began to play, I was paying attention.

A young Marine stood when “A Marine’s Hymn” was played but my heart sank when he ended up sitting down midway through. No one was really paying attention and he knew it.

In fairness, I was sitting in a different place than I was a decade ago and I had to strain to hear the music, so I’m hoping my experience was as simple as no one was knew what was taking place.

But what if it really was different last night than over ten years ago? Then, patriotism was high as we had just entered war after having been attacked on September 11. Our boys being in harm’s way was new to my generation. We had pride in our country. We had pride in our men and women. And, maybe we didn’t all have cell phones to distract us but for darn sure we were paying attention during this honorable moment.

What has happened to us, that we would sit unaffected as a young man who serves our country stands and no one takes notice? Where is our pride?

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I don’t know the answer, but I’ll tell you what I observe around me. I see a lot of infighting between Americans and little camaraderie. We’re so busy fighting with each other that we don’t remember we’re still a very free nation with so much for which to be thankful!

Sure, I have my concerns about the future of my children in this nation – very real concerns regarding their religious freedom and their ability to prosper.  I, like so many of the younger generation, see the United States less as Israel and more as Babylon. So don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to paint the picture of a perfect nation.

But we are still a free nation. We still have three branches of government functioning with checks and balances as our forefathers intended. We still have young men and women putting themselves in harm’s way. Some don’t come home and others do with physical and emotional scars. We live in a nation we should still be proud to call our home!

If we raise a generation that lacks pride in our country, we are raising a generation that will hold little motivation to fight for it.

If we raise a generation that lacks pride in our country, we are raising a generation that will hold little motivation to fight for it.

Let’s argue with one another with respect. Let’s seek to dialogue as calm adults and not bickering children. And in the meantime, no matter where we fall – conservative, liberal, progressive, libertarian… let’s instill a pride in our nation in the next generation.

Because the future of our nation may depend on it.

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*Note, the beautiful fireworks and River Bridge photos were taken by my talented husband. 🙂

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