My first recollection of anything American dates back to just a couple years after we immigrated to Canada. We lived on Cascade Ave in the east part of London, just a block away from the public school we went to. I remember we had a tv, but it didn't see much use. Until the movie, Angels in the Outfield was brought into our house. We used to watch it all the time--it was one of the three movies our family owned--and could recite most of it. Well, in the first couple of scenes the American anthem is sung before they started playing baseball. Thus, my love for America was born and I could belt out the anthem just as well as I could to my own Canadian one. After my grade four year at public school, my parents switched us kids to Bethel Baptist Academy and I began to learn more about America through the curriculum our school used.
Although I loved Canada, I became fascinated with America because it was the country I learned about. I had only visited the country once--New York--and my family didn't even stay very long or see any sights, but the stories I would read made me fall in love with our Southern neighbour.
One of the main reasons I was endeared to the US was because of the military. All the smart looking divisions; the code they lived by; the heroic deeds I read about; the heart wrenching photo clips of families standing by the grave sites of their fallen Soldier; happy clips of wives and husbands reuniting, as well as fathers and children closely embraced. This all caused me to have a deep respect for America as a whole. I would see photographs of the American flag waving; see patriotic souls captured on film. I viewed America as a land loved by her inhabitants; a people fiercely independent and patriotic--from the smallest person to the oldest.
Since living in the States during my years at college and the two years I've been teaching, my eyes have seen a little bit more and I don't have the same idealistic thoughts as I once did. I am saddened by the decline I see: from politics to the disrespect people show when the Flag passes by, or the anthem is being sung. I'm saddened that more and more people do not even know the words to famous patriotic songs, and more importantly, the national anthem. I'm saddened by the division and strife that is seen among the people.
But, even through all this, I find that my admiration--though not as strong--is still a part of me. Because of the folks I've met who are still patriotic, and who still love their country. Because of stories such as the following found in my inbox yesterday, reminding me of people who still care.
Will You give this to my Daddy?
As a Company, Southwest Airlines is going to support 'Red Fridays.'
Last week I was in Atlanta , Georgia attending a conference. While I was in the airport, returning home, I heard several people behind me beginning to clap and cheer. I immediately turned around and witnessed One of the greatest acts of patriotism I have ever seen. Moving thru the terminal was a group of soldiers in their camas. As they began heading to their gate, everyone (well almost everyone) was abruptly to their feet with their hands waving and cheering. When I saw the soldiers, probably 30-40 of them, being applauded and Cheered for, it hit me. I'm not alone. I'm not the only red-blooded American who still loves this country and supports our troops and their families.
Of course I immediately stopped and began clapping for these young unsung heroes who are putting their lives on the line everyday for us so we can go to school, work and home without fear or reprisal. Just when I thought I could not be more proud of my country or of our Service men and women, a young girl, not more than 6 or 7 years old ran up to one of the male soldiers.. He kneeled down and said 'hi...'
The little girl then asked him if he would give something to her daddy for her...The young soldier, who didn't look any older than maybe 22 himself, said he would try and what did she want to give to her daddy. Then suddenly the little girl grabbed the neck of this soldier, gave him the biggest hug she could muster and then kissed him on the cheek.
The mother of the little girl, who said her daughter's name was Courtney , told the young soldier that her husband was a Marine and had been in Iraq for 11 months now. As the mom was explaining how much her daughter Courtney missed her father, the young soldier began to tear up.
When this temporarily single mom was done explaining her situation, all of the soldiers huddled together for a brief second... Then one of the other servicemen pulled out a military-looking walkie-talkie. They started playing with the device and talking back and forth on it..
After about 10-15 seconds of this, the young soldier walked back over to Courtney , bent down and said this to her, 'I spoke to your daddy and he told me to give this to you.' He then hugged this little girl that he had just met and gave her a kiss on the cheek. He finished by saying 'your daddy told me to tell you that he loves you more than anything and he is coming home very soon.'
The mom at this point was crying almost uncontrollably and as the young soldier stood to his feet, he saluted Courtney and her mom. I was standing no more than 6 feet away from this entire event.
As the soldiers began to leave, heading towards their gate, people resumed their applause. As I stood there applauding and looked around, there were very few dry eyes, including my own. That young soldier in one last act of selflessness turned around and blew a kiss to Courtney with a tear rolling down his cheek.
We need to remember everyday all of our soldiers and their families and thank God for them and their sacrifices. At the end of the day, it's good to be an American.
RED FRIDAYS ----- Very soon, you will see a great many people wearing red every Friday. The reason? Americans who support our troops used to be called the 'silent majority'. We are no longer silent, and are voicing our love for God, country and home in record breaking numbers. Our idea of showing solidarity and support for our troops with dignity and respect starts this Friday - and continues each and every Friday until the troops all come home, sending a deafening message that.. Every red-blooded American who supports our men and women afar will wear something red. By word of mouth, press, TV -- let's make the United States on every Friday a sea of red much like a homecoming football game in the bleachers. If every one of us who loves this country will share this with acquaintances, co-workers, friends, and family. It will not be long before the USA is covered in RED.
The first thing a soldier says when asked 'What can we do to make things better for you?' is.....We need your support and your prayers.
Let's get the word out and lead with class and dignity, by example.
Bill & Cathy