The last couple of weeks have taken a huge toll on patriotism. Just prior to Memorial Day, there was a liberal talk-show host declaring he was uncomfortable  calling those who fell in battle defending our rights heroes. Then you have some teen in Houston refusing to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance because he was tired from jogging to school. Now, over the weekend, there was news from Coney Island that a principal cancelled Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless The USA” from her graduation ceremony for kindergarteners. She said she was going to use Justin Bieber’s “Baby” instead. She banned Greenwood’s song because it was not ‘age-appropriate’, but a song about teen love is? These are just a few examples that made the news recently. It makes me wonder about what happened to patriotism.

When I was growing up, back in the 50’s and 60’s, if you were to walk down the streets, you’d see houses with flags unfurled. Every holiday, like Memorial Day, July 4th or Veterans Day gave us a parade. Bands played “America, The Beautiful” or “My Country Tis Of Thee” as they made their way down the street. The flag would follow and people watching became quiet, stood and either covered their heart with their right hand or, if they were in uniform, they saluted. Later, upon joining the Boy Scouts of America, I proudly became part of the parades. In school, we stood each day facing the flag in the classroom and said the Pledge of Allegiance. We didn’t have any problem with the line “One Nation, Under God”. We weren’t just reciting words without knowing the meaning. Our parents told us. We knew the flag was more than just a piece of cloth. I remember, as a scout, I saw the janitor taking down the flag at my junior high school in the afternoon and wadding it up. Several of my friends and I, members of the same troop, went to the principal and asked permission to raise, lower and fold the flag each day, which we did until we had all gone to different schools. Other scouts took our places when we left.

Today, I live in a different city, in a different state, but , I imagine the story is the same everywhere. On the street where I live, there are perhaps ten flags flying in front of houses, including mine, out of about 75 homes. The county school board to the north of us just decided to forgo requiring students to say the Pledge of Allegiance. People at functions pay no attention to the flag as the national anthem is played. They continue with their conversations. Only a few, it seems, know what to do to show the proper respect.

What is to blame for the change? I know it didn’t happen overnight. It was a gradual occurrence over the past couple of generations. I doubt it is a regional situation, as the three examples above are in different parts of the country. Could it be peer pressure?

I believe that the importance of patriotism has been downgraded. Pride in being an American has been replaced with an over-emphasis of self-worth. Being a part of this great nation has taken a back seat those asking, “What’s in it for me”. The problem is that we’ve allowed it to happen. I include myself in this.

As I’ve mentioned earlier, when the school board voted against requiring the Pledge of Allegiance, I didn’t do anything about it, because I didn’t have any kids young enough to attend and I live in a different county anyway.  I’ve done nothing to further knowledge of flag etiquette, besides teaching my children (no grandkids yet). I should find an outlet to educate those with a desire to learn.

So, is patriotism dead? The answer is a resounding NO! It is in a battle with complacency and we need to become more active in the battle. There are plenty of people who are proud to be an American in this country. We are not even a minority, we just need to take a stand. One step that can be done was put together by the Heritage Foundation, a group read of the Declaration of Independence on the Fourth of July. When was the last time you read the document that declared our freedom? Heritage is asking Patriots to gather their families together and read the Declaration. Discuss it among yourselves and explain it to those who are young. If we all just take a stand, we can turn this trend around and start to regain our country.