Finding your patriot’s heart

Published 7:00 am Tuesday, July 4, 2017

By Mary Beth Magee

Presidents Day, Patriots Day, Memorial Day. Flag Day. Independence Day. Veterans Day. The patriotically themed holidays dot our calendars with reminders. Too often, they are cues for a day off, mega sales, a family gathering or a sports event rather than the pause for reflection on what our nation means. I recently had opportunity to view a moving event which brought home to me how little attention we pay to the foundations of freedom we say we treasure.

The woman at the lectern had just received her certificate of citizenship. She reported she had been here for more than twenty years and worked toward the goal of belonging for most of that time. In her presentation, she spoke of how precious the United States was to her, how proud she was to finally be a citizen. Then she led the group in the Pledge of Allegiance, her first time leading it as a citizen.

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Tears flowed freely around the room, not only from her family, but from most of us present. This petite lady probably knew more of American history than the rest of us remembered from school. She understood more of our political system than most of us can be bothered to know. She felt greater pride in her new country than most of us who were born here.

Maybe if we had to study and pass a test to become voting citizens, we would appreciate more fully the gift we have in our nation. Perhaps compulsory public service, as many countries require, would help to build a sense of gratitude instead of entitlement.

The gift of a patriot’s heart doesn’t come from where you’re born. The love of country must be cultivated over the years. Part of the love comes from participating in public activities to better our country. Part of the love comes from understanding we aren’t perfect, but we try to get better. We’ve made mistakes, but we try to correct them. We’ve missed the mark sometimes, but we keep aiming.

Do you have a patriot’s heart? Do your prayers include our nation and our leadership (whether you voted for them or not)? Does your routine include time giving back to society through activities such as volunteerism or donating to worthy causes? Do you support those who risk their lives to protect us: our military, law enforcement, fire fighters and other first responders?

I pray you’ll find your patriot’s heart and help to make our country the best it can be—the country legal immigrants dream of and work to be a part of. Look at the United States through the eyes of those immigrants and give thanks for what we have.