"Patriotism is not short, frenzied outbursts of emotion, but the tranquil and steady dedication of a lifetime." - Adlai Stevenson

“Patriotism is not short, frenzied outbursts of emotion, but the tranquil and steady dedication of a lifetime.”

That quote from Adlai Stevenson is probably one of my favorites. Obviously September 11th affected all of us in our own unique way. One positive thing it did bring about (at least for a while) was a surge of patriotism and the desire to support the men & women in the service of this country. I rarely wear my uniform when I fly (as to not draw extra attention to myself) but when I do, I have only gone a couple times where someone hasn’t come up to me to say that they appreciate my service, or to share their own experience with me when they served. In that moment I find myself always humbled by it and find myself at a loss for the right words usually muttering “Thank you, it’s my honor.” But that moment means more than just a few seconds in verbal exchange. Its an opportunity for everyone to become part of the support network that makes it possible for the men and women of the Armed Services to do what they do. Its truly a special bond that we all share that transgresses race, gender or religion. We recognize that we are all part of something bigger than us which will survive long after we have perished.

The moments like that which touch me the most are when an obvious veteran from a previous war comes up and thanks me. I was out to lunch with members of my squadron for a shipmate’s going-away party (he was transferring to a new command). The majority of us were in uniform and as we were leaving the restaurant, an older gentleman stood up from his table, walked over to me and shook my hand. He said, “Thank you for your service Chief. I served in Vietnam in the Air Force from ’64 to ’67.” I was quite shocked and again humbled. Then I returned his handshake and said “No, thank you sir for serving so that I and others like me could have the opportunity to serve later.” He smiled, got quiet and returned to his seat. I think both of us probably had a lump in our throats after we parted ways.

True patriotism isn’t about wearing a t-shirt that proclaims it nor is it about if you’ve got a magnetic ribbon on your car. Its about dedication and constant effort to support those who support and defend our country.  If you truly want to be a patriot, copy a page from the generation of folks who supported the folks during WW2 (the great generation).  Their contributions weren’t always big, but were backed with simple deeds that meant something.  There are plenty of things that people can say or do to support veterans.

We can show
our patriotism
with more than
just magnets on
our cars.

arrowThank them for their service: Never let an opportunity to let a service member pass by in the airport, train station, bus station, etc where you don’t make the time to thank them for their sacrifice. It doesn’t have to be anything more than a smile, a handshake and a simple “Hey, thanks for serving.” You’ll win extra respect if you know their rank and say something like “Hey Lance Corporal, thanks for what you’re doing, and take care of yourself ok?”

arrowDon’t exclude aging or retired veterans; their contributions were no less important: Seek out the opportunities to do things for the veterans in your community.  There are WW2, Korea, Vietnam, Gulf War and other veterans in every community in the U.S. Some may be your neighbor, your co-worker, your teacher, etc.  Take the time to learn about their past. Show interest in their service contributions.

arrowDon’t qualify their service based on status (Active Duty/Full Time, Selected Reservist or National Guard): With the amount of time that the Reserve and National Guard members have spent in Iraq and Afghanistan, it is neither polite nor is it fair to do so. EVERYONE who serves makes a contribution.

arrowSupport their families: Learn about the military families in your neighborhood.  If their loved one is away, seek opportunities to help them in simple ways.  Lend a hand if they have work around their yard that needs to be done  or get a group of neighbors together to help them with home repairs that they may not have the money or the know-how to do by themselves.  Or something as simple as making them a pie and taking it over.  The simple things go a long way.

arrowSupport organizations that help injured or deployed service members: There are plenty of volunteer/non-profit organizations that aid service members if they are injured, or while they are away.  If you don’t have a lot of time, but do have some resources you can donate contact those organizations that can use them.
Here are just a few:
Veterans of Foreign Wars

arrowShow respect for the Flag during ceremonies, games, or events: Service men and women for generations have died in service of this country. It is but a simple gesture to honor them by standing up during the National Anthem, removing your hats, putting your hands over your heart, and being quiet.  Or just by remembering the manners we were all taught and standing up when the American flag is paraded by. The picture below says it well: “The only person standing…is the one in a wheelchair.”


arrowSwap seats to push a service member to fly in business/1st Class: This is by no means necessary, but was one of the coolest things I’d seen when I was flying back on a commercial flight from the Middle East.  A gentleman got up from First Class and went back to one of the sailors who was back in coach and said “You need to sit in my seat more than I do.  Would you mind if we swapped?”  A simple gesture from a business man who probably travels all over for business and is used to being comfortable, but it meant a lot to that young man who would have sat on wooden crates for hours, just to get home.

arrowNon-rev tickets: I’ve had several pilots in my squadron who are pilots for the civilian airlines offer me and others who commute to serve, non-revenue tickets from their airlines that they get for free.  They understand the sacrifice and the expense and though their generous offer may not seem like much to them, it makes the opportunity to serve a little easier.

arrowWhat ways can you think of to show your patriotism?

Proudly powered by WordPress. Theme developed with WordPress Theme Generator.
Copyright © CitizenSailor. All rights reserved.