AM I A PATRIOT?
What I’m about to say is in no way meant to be political.
As I look back over my very long life, I have just started to think about certain incidents I have noted.
I remember that little banner with a star. It was proudly displayed in the front room window at my grandparent’s house on Tucker Street in Dyersburg, Tennessee. The star represented their two sons, Orville Pruitt (Navy) and Jesse Pruitt (Army).
I remember the family pride and fearful hesitation that one or both of those brave young men might not survive their roles in the battles of World War II. Fortunately, by God’s grace, they both came marching, or sailing, home!
The next incident was very personal. When I turned eighteen, I did my required duty and showed up at the draft board, assuming I would be processed into the military.
Not so. My history of rheumatic fever, a heart condition, prohibited my entering the service. I was disappointed. I wanted to serve my country just like many of my friends were doing during the Korean War.
What upset me was that while I was anxious to serve, many young men were running off to Canada to avoid the draft.
It was all in the family that my only brother, Russell, served in the Alabama Air National Guard, then on to an Air Support Unit in the Texas Air National Guard, then back to a Reconnaissance Unit, Communication Support in Birmingham. Then Russ ended up with Top Secret Security Clearance which he won’t discuss even with me!
Needless to say, I am extremely proud of my brother. He did things for our country that I was not able to do. This is when my patriotism began to show itself.
My love for country became all the more prominent in my thinking recently, when I learned that my good friend, C.R. Bailey, a fellow minister of the gospel, flew fighter jets in combat during the Korean War, the name in insisted calling it, by the way. “It was a war, not a conflict,” he emphasizes.
And then there’s my brother-in-law, Dennis Rund. It is hard for me to say how much I love and admire this man who served our country in Viet Name and who, as a result of contact with Agent Orange, lives out his life with Parkinson’s. A man who gladly served our country and never complains about his condition.
But patriotism is not just about military service, as vital as it is, that has served to keep us safe. Patriotism speaks to respect for our nation’s banner. When I stand, place my hand over my heart, and say “under God,” I’m thinking about how He has kept us free so that we could say those final words, “for liberty and justice for all.”
Am I a patriot if I often get tears in my eyes when I hear those words or when I hear, “Oh, say can you see…” or I hear an alien friend of mine, Sukhui, take the oath…”that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America…” to become an American citizen?
Yes, I am indeed a patriot. I’m thinking, “God bless America,” and how blessed I am to live freely in The Garden of Eads.