So yesterday was the Fourth of July, which is always a great holiday for us Americans. I do think of myself as above-average patriotic. I think I'm patriotic almost to the point of cheesiness. I like me some Americana country songs and even get a little teary-eyed when I hear them. I dress myself, and now my family, in some sort of red, white, and blue, every year on Independence Day. USA! That's me.
This enthusiasm for our country goes back as long as I can remember. When I was 4 or 5 I dressed up as the Statue of Liberty for the town's Fourth of July celebration. For the next decade or so, maybe not quite, I participated in the town's kiddie parade. My sister and I would get up early on the Fourth to intertwine crepe paper in our bicycle spokes. We would don every single piece of red, white, and blue clothing we had. One highlight year, my cousins were visiting and they pulled me in a wagon while I sat on a rocking chair (on the wagon) dressed as Betsy Ross and pretended to sew the American flag. I'm 99% sure we won an award that year.
The patriotism wasn't just a Fourth of July thing for me though. Yearround I took great pride in being in charge of putting our flag out in the morning and taking it down after dinner. I would gasp if I ever saw a flag touch the ground. The Pledge of Allegiance meant a lot to me, and I really did love our country. I grew up with idealistic notions that the rest of the world loved us, that the politicians were always looking out for the common man, and democracy was a smooth-running machine.
Obviously as I got older and wiser, the reality of foreign sentiments towards the US, politicians' creepiness and corruption, and a lesson in government (not in high school but that's a different story) opened my eyes to what was really going on. The vibrancy of the red, white, and blue faded a little, but the underlying pride in our country and what we, as a nation, stand for is still deep in my heart.
I do not believe those who serve in our military automatically love our country more than the civilians. I know there are many servicemembers who joined up for an opportunity to get a free education, see the world, etc., without a single glimmer of patriotism. The military was a means to an end. I also know there are many civilians who are passionate about the USA and are working directly or indirectly to improve the lives of every American.
Being married to a servicemember is one way my patriotism comes through. Granted, I would have married my husband if he was a teacher, a garbage man, or a basket weaver, because I love the man he is. I did not go looking for a Navy guy to marry. However, I'm not sure I could get through deployments, living far distances from my family, saying good-bye to very dear friends every few years if I did not believe in the reason why we do those things. I love our country. I want it to be protected every day, in war or peace. When my husband leaves for weeks or months, I know we are not doing it for a bigger pay check or any other convenience, we are doing it to defend a country that I have loved and continue to love since I was a little girl marching around waving an American flag.