What is an American patriot?
Throughout the centuries of America’s history, people have achieved greatness on behalf of this nation through their vision, dedication, dreams, self-sacrifice, and love. These qualities have established America in greatness, and will preserve it for future generations. It is the people, the individual men, women, and children who fill the land and exemplify these qualities that embody patriotism. America is not the government, the land, or even the freedoms; the everyday people in each state are America. Thus, while certainly the men and women who have given their lives for this country deserve honor and respect for their patriotism, we must not forget, it is the individuals who make this country great, who are also patriots.
As they set the groundwork for our nation, the diverse group of founding fathers looked toward the future, considering the following generations in their grave decisions. They did not seize the opportunity to establish themselves in power. Instead, they created a country for both the people at that present time and for generations to come, realizing the preservation of America lay in hands of the people, not the leadership of one person. George Washington, in declining a third presidential term, exemplifies this when he says in his farewell address, “that in withdrawing the tender of service . . . I am influenced by no diminution of zeal for your future interest, no deficiency of grateful respect for your past kindness, but am supported by a full conviction that the step is compatible with both” (Washington). Such vision as this, in careful consideration for the needs of the country and its future interests, has affirmed George Washington, as well as the other founders of our nation as American patriots.
Nevertheless, similar preparation for the future has been enacted by many men and women throughout the generations. Before each election numerous citizens compare the candidates to the ideals of the United States Constitution and support the men and women they think best suited to execute each office. Despite differences in opinion, these citizens do what they think best for the country in accordance with the American dream. Attentively, they engage in supporting their country. These Americans who plan for America’s future are no less visionary for their nation than the founding fathers. Thus, in putting to action their vision, they too are American patriots.
The great American patriot, Abraham Lincoln, rose from a humble log cabin in Illinois to become the president who did not let the union dissolve. In delivering his Gettysburg Address, he speaks of the dedication of the fallen heroes, “The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract” (Lincoln). It is through the dedication of such people who have devoted themselves to fight for freedom, for equality, and for the preservation of this nation that America has conquered all which has threatened to destroy it. Abraham Lincoln spent his presidency declaring that while a divided house cannot stand the United States of America would stand because they would be united. None can doubt the patriotism he and the soldiers displayed through their dedication to defend the American Union.
Yet, there are still those in this present time who show similar dedication to America. Whether or not they fight with their lives, or with their hands, with their words, or with their intelligence, the people of America who have dedicated themselves to their work, to the tasks at hand, they too are patriots. Abraham Lincoln continued his speech with the words, “It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us . . . that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth” (Lincoln). The everyday Americans hard at work, the men, and women who have dedicated themselves “to the great task,” these people are the American patriots.
One hundred years after the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, Martin Luther King Jr. delivered a speech, a speech calling America to fulfill the freedoms it proclaimed, a speech dreaming of a future for America where everyone would have a right to dream for their country and a right to reach these goals. His desire was not for himself. He dreamed for America, that America could achieve something great. Today in America his hopes are fulfilled. Today Americans do “live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character” (King). But it is because one man dreamed and acted, telling America that, “even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream,” and a dream of freedom and equality for all (King).
Because of this freedom we, the American people, can dream. But not only can we dream, we can achieve these ends. Like the entrepreneur who longs of creating a strong business, supplying goods for the people in the market; the medical student thinking of the lives he or she can save; the athlete striving to win the Olympic gold medal to honor America; like all the men and women in this great nation who dream for America to achieve greatness, who dream for a better tomorrow not only for themselves but everyone around them, these people are the American patriots. While our aspirations do not need to be as bold as Martin Luther King Jr.’s, the patriot’s dream is to support the good of America.
During a time when our country faced the horrors of World War II and our men bravely fought overseas, our women rose to meet the new production demands. Rosie the Riveter emblemized her army of hard working women who supplied weapons for the frontlines. Their love for this country and for the lives of its people was revealed through their readiness to leave the comfort of their homes and to enter the workforce. Had they remained complacent, watching from a distance and worrying instead of arming the soldiers, the war could have ended differently. But their patriotic love for this nation sprung forth as they battled to preserve and protect America.
They left an example for generations to follow as women today still stand up strong, working hard to protect America and preserve their way of life. Women imitate Rosie and roll up their sleeves, providing for their families through hard work. They often sacrifice their personal goals for the love of their families, which, in its turn, provides a strong foundation for the good of the country. Such love as this, while often unnoticed, deserves recognition as American patriotism.
At first glance he looked like an average person, but the courage and self-sacrifice of Todd Beamer and his fellow passengers on behalf of America cannot be forgotten. When Flight 93 was hijacked and targeted to crash into either the United States Capitol or the White House, the ordinary men and women aboard the aircraft rose to the occasion to defend America. Displaying the greatest love mankind can bestow, they sacrificed their lives to save the lives of others and to preserve an emblem of the United States of America. With the famous, calm words, “Let’s roll,” Todd Beamer rallied the other passengers to retake the cockpit of the plane and crash-land it into a Pennsylvania field. These words were a call to action, and a call to sacrifice. In this great patriotic act, they gave their lives for America.
It is average people from average places, like Todd Beamer, who have risen to the task to protect America, who have demonstrated self-sacrifice on behalf of this country. All around America are men and women who have dedicated and sacrificed their lives. In every generation people died on the frontlines defending, protecting, and preserving this land so the millions of others can sleep in peace. These seemingly average people have accomplished extraordinary feats on behalf of their country, giving the ultimate sacrifice of their lives. We cannot say enough to the Marines, the Navy, the Air Force, the Army, and the National Guard for their great service to this nation. These brave men and women, from ordinary backgrounds, are American patriots.
Dictionary definitions of patriotism can only describe the lifeless love for one’s country. It cannot express the active participation of planning for future generations, the dedication of preserving the nation, the dreaming of the greatness it can accomplish, the selfless love for country, or the sacrifice for the protection of its people. This great nation is filled with such people –people who doff their hats, hold their hands over their hearts, and watch with pride as the red, white, and blue unfurls overhead –the people whose hearts swell and eyes dampen as the anthem rings clear –the people who pledge allegiance to the flag. Whether they come from high rank like George Washington, a poor cabin like Abraham Lincoln, a history of slavery like Martin Luther King Jr., out of kitchens like Rosie’s army, or a seemingly average existence like Todd Beamer, America has seen many patriots who have served their country in separate ways as each was differently called. The American people, with their vision, dedication, dreams, love, and self-sacrifice, are patriots in the truest sense of the world. Regardless of the color of our skin, the place of our birth, or the style of our upbringing, we, the American people, can achieve greatness on behalf of our country through the application of such magnificent qualities. We the people, we are the patriots.
King, Martin Luther Jr. (1963, August 28). I have a Dream. Retrieved from
Lincoln, Abraham. (1863, November 19). Gettysburg Address. Retrieved from
Washington, George. (1796, September 19). Farewell Address. Retrieved from
This is a fun one to try. Make a pangram story where each sentence begins with a consecutive letter of the alphabet. Don’t kid yourself, this is pretty easy until you get to ‘X’ and ‘Z’!
Anyone can know the importance of a promise. But not everyone can keep a promise. Certainly, in one kingdom many miles and miles away, there was a young prince who did not understand the wise saying, “Let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’” Determined as he was to find a happiness, he did not realize his promise broken could have broken a heart. Expectations are attached to promises; this, he did not know.
For, you see, he told the king, “I’m off –to do what I can do and see what I can see.” Gladly he also promised, “I will wait; I will wait for you.”
Happily the king waited, so truly believing in a promise kept.
Intent on his journey, the prince set off and did what he could do and saw what he could see. Just think, he thought, I’m on my way, and who knows what could be over that horizon, but I will make a name for myself. Keeping in rhythm with his goal, he became a very prosperous young man, very content, very forgetful. Lost to him was the promise he had made and broken.
Many days go by, and hope begins to fade. Never before had the king believed in a promise broken, but he slowly began to realize its emptiness. Often this king did think of what happened, and understood a promise broken is a promise better not given and a promise kept is well worthy of respect. Patient days of waiting revealed the end of a promise given. Queenly riches are far less pure than grace bestowed and forgiveness shown. Rather than admitting to his neglect and wrong, the young prince moved on –perhaps not caring for this forgiveness shown, perhaps too aware of grace’s full meaning.
So goes the story of a promise broken. Truly not all that comes out of bad actions are bad consequences: blessings and curses alike come out of all. Unfortunate, yes it was, yet, not without the redemption of a lesson learned. Varied though the response of each may be, both the prince and the king did learn not to make a promise broken and not to believe in a promise made.
What of a promise kept? X-ray vision cannot even foresee if a promise made is a promise kept until the promise is fulfilled. Yet, it cannot be that one never makes a promise. Zeal in its fulfilling is all that is required. A promise kept is a promise worthy of making. But a promise broken causes much pain.
I decided to try my hand at a French piece -I am learning French after all. It took me a lot longer than writing anything in English, but I think it turned out. If any of you are fluent in French, you might think otherwise, but I’m quite pleased with it.
Il y a une rue qui va à travers de la vie. Cette rue termine dans une de deux endroits –enfer ou paradis. Mais, la rue de paradis est pavée en or. Et, quand vous entrez paradis, vous ne voulez rien de partir. Il n’y a pas de pleurs. Il n’y a pas de tristesse. Il n’y a pas de décès. Mais, il y a Dieu. Et Dieu a vous adopté. Vous êtes l’enfant de Dieu, et Il est votre père. Tout le monde lui vénérera.
Mais, il y a des autres qui vont à la rue d’enfer. Et cette rue termine avec feu. Et là, il y a des pleurs. Il y a de tristesse. Il y a de misère. Il y a de grincement de dents. Et, il n’y a pas de espère.
Alors, choisissez-vous aujourd’hui qui vous servirez –Dieu ou Satan. Et entrez dans la rue de vie.
Once upon a time there was a fair maiden. She lived happily in her own little world in her own little corner of a garret. Her friends were odd little creatures: the birds and the mice. But she was happy. And that was enough. Dreams took her to lands unexplored. Songs lifted her days while she cleaned and cleaned.
Nothing ever stays the same. Life changes. And so, all went along this way, until one day . . .
One day, a messenger came, announced a party, extended an invitation, and invited the maiden. All day she fretted as she put her house to order, for, you see, all she did was cook and clean and sing and talk with her friends the mice, so she had nothing suitable to wear for the dance. But innocence is richer than silk dresses and kindness purer than glass slippers. Such goodness better adorns a pretty face.
And so, the maiden went to the party. She looked very pretty, so pretty, that many eyes followed her about the room, feminine eyes jealous of her laughter, masculine eyes longing for her favor. But only one handsome, young prince had the courage to ask her to dance. Thus, she danced only one dance. This dance was enough. All the unexplored worlds her dreams had built vanished. A memory replaced them, the memory of the dance and of the prince.
Yet, as the story goes, time was up, the clock stuck twelve, and the maiden had to return home. She left in a hurry, into the night she flurried, carrying with her the dreams building a castle from a dance. In this dream castle in the clouds, the maiden danced with the prince, for she thought he would follow her.
The maiden waited, for seven months, she built her dreams, and she waited, hoping for the prince to find her, hoping to dance with him again. But he never came. And the clouds upon which her castle sat drifted away. Still the dance remained a memory to which she clung with fondness, remembering she could have missed this sadness, but she would have had to miss that dance. And so, the maiden lived, not so happily, in her own little corner of a garret. She had her friends, who were odd little creatures –the birds and the mice. But she was not so happy as she was once.
What she did not know, was that the prince, so enchanted with the maiden, felt in his heart he must find her. And thus, he searched. For seven months he pursued the maiden. He searched the cottages near the sea, he searched the mansions on the hilltops, he searched the houses in the village, but he did not search in the little corner of a garret, which was where the maiden lived. So, he did not find the maiden. When time had passed, he grew tired of waiting for the maiden to appear. And in the meantime he longed to marry, and chose a wife, very charming and sweet and kind. And in the end, the memory of the maiden faded. For, to him, she was just a pretty face, and nothing more.
But, nothing ever stays the same. Life changes.
The maiden did not end her days in her own little world in her own little corner of a garret. She learned to look out from under the eaves. She saw all the wonderful parties there were in the world and all the dreamy princes who awaited her, asking for another dance. And she danced, a good many dances, and became very, very happy –happier than she had ever been before. For, you see, she had found a prince who saw more than just a pretty face. And so, they danced happily ever after.
There once was a time, oh so long ago, when the tree could talk. Yes, and if you were especially quiet walking through the wood, you might even hear it sing. But the tree loved to talk and could tell you all sorts of things; for, you see, it was so tall it could look a great ways into the distance, and had lived a long, long time.
Before the trees lost their voices, they chatted amongst themselves, talking about all kinds of things –birds and squirrels, people passing below, the hot sun, and the soothing water.
And in this particular wood, there were two trees, two very old trees, creaking, and dried, and gnarled from age. Still, like twins they stood so close their branches wove together, intertwining till, if you stood below, you could scarcely discern which branch belonged to which tree. While you might say it is not possible, these trees loved each other as dearly as either you or I could love another.
Now, as you might know, trees are very proud creatures, for, you see, they have much to be proud of. Their might and strength is widely known, and they are very vain in desiring praise. Each tree likes to know they are the tallest, the widest, the strongest, or the prettiest. Yet, only one tree can bear these titles –only one.
Now, it happened one day that a traveler passed through the wood. And on his way, he stopped to rest beneath the twin trees, for he thought them very comfortable. The twin trees were very honored by his choice, and stood the taller for it. Yet, in waking, the man got up to leave, shaking the sleep out of his eyes.
But no tree could say which twin he meant.
And as it went, the trees began to whisper. You might have heard a tree whisper before if ever you’ve been in the forest and heard what you thought was the wind running through the leaves. But, in fact, that was the sound of whispering trees. And all the trees began to whisper amongst each other, each deciding which twin was the prettiest. Yet, their whispers grew sharp, like a harsh, biting wind, driving them apart.
For one tree would say, “Truly, I am more beautiful, for I am taller.”
Another would add, “Surely, they are not pretty, for they must rely on each other for beauty. If they did not stand together, they would not be half to pleasing.”
But no two trees could agree. Their anger spread throughout the wood and consumed them. No tree was left unscathed by the bitterness of the quarrel.
So angered, the twins began to fight against each other, not with blows and swipes like people do, but with words, stinging and biting. Each twin tried to free itself from the other. Yet, in their anger their branches only rubbed together –friction like stubbornness. Their words became so hot that sparks began to fly. If you’ve ever been near old wood and sparks, you know how quickly it turns to fire. Such a little thing, a tongue of fire, and yet, it leapt up between the trees, dancing in their branches, gloating over their boasting and consuming them.
Fire is always hungry and is never satisfied. And so, it jumped from tree to tree. Each tree had cast cutting words into the quarrel and was bitten back by the fire of the words. The flames overcame the grand branches, the sturdy trunks, the green leaves. The beauty of the tree was left to crumbling ash.
Coming to survey his charred forest, the Master of the wood passed over the roots that once supported trees, and under a sky that once was hidden by branches. He walked over trails that were no more. All the splendor of the forest disappeared. There was no green and brown and gold reflected from the brook. The gentle waters only showed the cold blue sky, and the charred, black earth. All the beauty was transformed into blackness.
He cried for his trees and said, “Now, oh beautiful trees, you know the destructive power of the tongue.”
Trees have grown up again in the wood. But, since that day, they have never forgotten the fire in hurtful words.
“Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things. See how great a forest a little fire kindles! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell.” James 3:5-6
Photo Credit 1
Journaling is the soul’s outlet. One has so much freedom in writing, transferring their thoughts and emotions onto paper. It could be a sentence, a phrase, even a word, but it is the product of one’s innermost thoughts and a reflection of a person’s being. In journaling, one transforms his or her vapor thoughts into tangible words. The tangled fragments of jumbled ideas and thoughts are forced into a rational composition. Yet, it doesn’t have to be a thought transposed by pen and ink; it could be an imagining or a dream.
In writing, I lose myself in the worlds of my own creating, of dreams well forged in bliss, and of thoughts, either trivial or ponderous. And while I love to empty my brain in this frivolous way, I find a value more practical than simply the emission of thought. It is a release, though not always a transportation away from this world, a means of processing life, of working through ideas, forcing one’s self to rationally contemplate that which their brains alone cannot as readily depict without words on paper. In plainer terms, the incoherent ideas in my mind do not always make sense without their equivalent organized into words on paper. When irrational emotion overcomes me and I take up a journal, the feelings drain like the ink from my pen. If, in anger I begin, I end the page in tranquility.
And so, as often as need be, whenever inspiration strikes, whenever thoughts need thinking into words, whenever I simply long for letters on an empty page, I’ll journal –‘till my thoughts are words.