Talking of patriotism, what humbug it is; it is a word which always commemorates a robbery. There isn’t a foot of land in the world which doesn’t represent the ousting and re-ousting of a long line of successive owners.
– Mark Twain
Who’s your favorite patriot?
It’s great to love your country (I do), but Patriotism, man, what a loaded word. Remember the flap about whether or not then-candidate Barack Obama lacked patriotic spirit because he didn’t have a flag pin on his lapel? Forevermore, we Americans will see flag pins on Presidents’ and Presidential candidates’ lapels!
Rah rah! Remember when true patriots only bought cars made in America? Kind of a shock when it came out that many parts under the hoods of our beloved American cars came from China. Remember Freedom Fries, when those naughty French refused to support the Iraq War in 2003? Representative Walter Ney led the charge to rename French Fries and French Toast, Freedom Fries and Freedom Toast, on the menus in the Congressional cafeterias. In 2006, the names were quietly changed back, and Walter Ney pleaded guilty to conspiracy and making false statements in the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal. Some patriot.
So, here’s my nomination for True Patriot. Son of a German immigrant brew-meister who was ridiculed by his peers during World War I because of his heritage. To prove his love of country, he joined the Boy Scouts and became a top salesman of Liberty Bonds. When former U.S. President Teddy Roosevelt came to town to award medals to the top ten bond sellers — oops — there were only nine medals, and none for the son of the German immigrant, who was hustled off the stage. He suffered from a fear of public speaking for the rest of his life.
His father was a member of the Park Board in his hometown of Springfield MA, and while tagging along at the local zoo, he started a lifelong love of doodling animals, usually in an exaggerated fashion. He went on to squeak through Dartmouth and drop out of Oxford, to write ads for a pesticide company, all the while hoping to make a living drawing zany creatures. In 1937 while on a ship to Europe, he made up a limerick to go with the sound of the engines, that eventually became his first children’s book, To Think I Saw It On Mulberry Street. It was rejected 27 times by publishers who said they only wanted stories with morals, but finally picked up by a publisher, and the rest is history. He continued to write imaginatively and heroically, for the rest of his life. Oh The Places You’ll Go is one of the top gifts to graduates, and his protest against pollution, The Lorax, both raises hackles and inspires budding environmentalists to this day. We miss you Dr. Suess.
Patriotism isn’t wearing a symbol or singing a song at a baseball game. It’s working to give back to your country as much as it has given you, and in the end, helping the country give back to the world as much as it’s given us.
Who would you nominate for the honorable title of Patriot?
Written for the great GBE 2: Blog On, WEEK #76 (10-28-12 to 11-3-12): Patriotism. Join us!