Posted in America, patriotism

Proud to be an American

America. A country of 50 united states that was founded 244 years ago when the words written by Thomas Jefferson in a document entitled the Declaration of Independence was signed, sealed, and delivered on July 4, 1776.

The United States of America. The land of liberty.

A land from sea to shining sea represented by a flag waving in the wind that’s displayed even outside my country home. That flag consists of 13 red and white alternating stripes standing for the 13 original colonies at the time of this nation’s birth and 50 white stars – one for each state – on a field of blue.

Those colors used have specific meaning: red for valor and bravery; white for purity and innocence, and blue for vigilance, perseverance, and justice.

America. A perfect nation? No. One without mistakes? Absolutely not. One with no faults? Of course not.

America. A country without trials and tribulations? Not likely. One with turmoil and unrest? Unfortunately, yes. Especially in these current times.

As a nation, we Americans are struggling right now. But we have struggled before. We have endured horrendous times and we still stand. We have weathered what’s thrown at us and we persevere.

And we will continue to do so. Because despite her faults, I love my country. I love what she personifies. I love her history, good and bad. I love the freedoms those who came before me fought so valiantly to procure for future generations.

I pray for my country each and every day. I pray for my country’s leaders. I give thanks to God that I am an American and I ask Him to not only bless my country but to heal its many hurts and anguish.

I’m proud to say I’m an American, so on this Independence Day, this fourth day of July, this day that we set aside to commemorate and remember the birth of this great nation, I will celebrate. And I will celebrate my freedom to do so.

“Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same.” ~ Ronald Reagan

©2020 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Posted in patriotism, photography

O’er the ramparts

blogIMG_8001It’s August. The 4th of July is over, Flag Day (June 14) is long past, and Memorial Day an even more distant memory but the American flag still flies from our front porch.

Some folks only display our country’s red, white, and blue on those holidays with maybe Veteran’s Day tossed in. But at our house, the flag waves from its post yearlong.

I can’t remember exactly when Papa and I decided Ol’ Glory should always remain outside our home come whatever season, whatever weather, day or night, but I know we’ve already worn out one flag and put it to rest as custom and respect dictates.

Our flag flying might be attributed to the fact that my husband is a military veteran and our family is proud and thankful for his service to our country and that flag.  Or it may also be attributed to the history buffs in our family – namely Papa and Middle Daughter.

In any case, we’re a grand old flag flying family. A few years ago, our family’s Australian friends came to the United States to visit and as they traveled around the country, they kept track of how many American flags they spotted flapping in the breeze.  They were surprised as the number increased significantly on their journey and I can only deduce that they don’t see Australian flags in abundance in their own country.

All of these thoughts meander through my mind since one of the stops we made on our week-long venture from home in June was Fort McHenry in Baltimore, Maryland If you’re not familiar with this historical site, during the War of 1812, American soldiers at this coastal fort successfully defended Baltimore Harbor in the Chesapeake Bay from the British navy. 

After the battle finally ended, a large American flag was raised over the fort demonstrating British defeat and American perseverance.

Watching the bombardment of Fort McHenry from a truce ship in the nearby Patapsco River, Frances Scott Key witnessed the flag hoisted into the air and was inspired to write a lengthy poem about the red, white, and blue. Eventually that first verse of his poem became the familiar lyrics to our American national anthem, the Star-Spangled Banner.  To read the poem in its entirety, click here.

blogIMG_7992It was a misty, slightly rainy morning as we toured this national park/monument and yet our country’s flag waved overhead.  We shared our time with a few busloads of elementary-aged school children on one of those end-of-the-year field trips and it was tricky to snap photos without getting the students in view.

But amidst all the running and climbing and yelling performed by the children, Papa and I managed to enjoy our tour. We walked around the parameter of the pentagonal-shaped fort, o’er the ramparts, so to speak.

We found a few serene moments just gazing out at the Chesapeake Bay and imagining a fierce battle taking place all those many years ago. And I felt awe and respect for that American spirit of battling for freedom and what is right that those who fought on that ground had done.

But the best part of all for me, the most awe-inspiring moment of the morning, was inside the visitor center. We rested on benches in a small, darkened theater-like area watching a short documentary video detailing the battle at Fort McHenry and the story behind Frances Scott Key witnessing the grand ol’ flag still flying.

At the end of the video, the Star Spangled Banner began to play. Each person stood in respect; some of us placed our hands over our hearts as we listened to those old words that most Americans know by heart.

O say, can you see, by the dawn’s early light,
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars, through the perilous fight,
O’er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming!
And the rockets’ red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there:
O say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

As we faced the large screen where the video had informed us and listened to our national anthem playing, the screen lifted up into the ceiling and in its place, we faced an entire wall of large, floor to ceiling plate glass windows…overlooking outside where the American flag proudly waved.

I was too awe-struck to even pull my camera up to my eye and snap a photo.

Call me sentimental. Call me patriotic. Call me proud to be an American. Call me however you wish to categorize me, but the sight choked me up and tears overflowed as I listened to those words and music while gazing at my country’s symbol of freedom.

It was a moment I won’t soon forget. We may have our struggles in this country. We may not all see eye to eye on a variety of issues. We have our virtues and we have our faults.

But I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else but this land, the land of the free and the home of the brave. America, God shed His grace on thee.

“There is nothing wrong in America that can’t be fixed with what is right in America.” ~ former President Bill Clinton in his first inaugural address, 1992

©2019 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

 

 

Posted in America, Independence Day, patriotism

Happy Birthday, America!

blogIMG_5765

“The United States is the only country with a known birthday.”  ~James G. Blaine

The United States of America.  It’s my country and I wouldn’t have wanted to be a native citizen of any other country in this world.  Patriotic? Yes, I am. As some unknown person once said, “My blood runs red, white, and blue.”

Why? Because I grew up in a time when we were taught to be proud of our nation yet remember the utmost sacrifices that were made to secure freedom and never take that freedom for granted.

I was taught that the Declaration of Independence was written with these words:  

“When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and of nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.  We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

I learned the preamble to the United States Constitution and what that important document established:

“We the People of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

My parents taught me to honor the symbol of our nation and its freedom, our flag, and the proper way to treat it and display it. I still recite the pledge of allegiance to our flag.

I know every word to The Star Spangled Banner; My Country ‘Tis of Thee; America, the Beautiful, and God Bless America.

My love for my country does not supersede my love for my Lord, but I know that my nation cannot and will not survive without being one nation under God.

I pray for this great nation of mine because it seems like we are sinking into a muddy mire of our own doing. And it’s time for we the people to speak up and out. As I reflect on this day – this Independence Day – the 4th of July,  the 240th birthday of my country, I take to heart the words of some of our founding fathers and former presidents because they still ring true.

“They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”  ~ Benjamin Franklin, Historical Review of Pennsylvania, 1759

“How little do my countrymen know what precious blessings they are in possession of, and which no other people on earth enjoy!” ~ Thomas Jefferson

“A general dissolution of principles and manners will more surely overthrow the liberties of America than the whole force of the common enemy. While the people are virtuous they cannot be subdued; but when once they lose their virtue then will be ready to surrender their liberties to the first external or internal invader.”  ~ Samuel Adams, letter to James Warren, February 12, 1779

“Freedom has its life in the hearts, the actions, the spirit of men and so it must be daily earned and refreshed – else like a flower cut from its life-giving roots, it will wither and die.” ~ President Dwight D. Eisenhower

And finally a birthday blessing straight from the song, America, the Beautiful, written by Katharine Lee Bates:

“America! America! God shed His grace on thee,
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!”

Happy Birthday to my country, the United States of America. May God bless it and keep it and may it continue to be a shining light of liberty in a dark world of oppression.

©2016 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Posted in patriotism

This is my country

My country…it has its beauty.  My country…it has its flaws.  

Yet it is still my country and I wouldn’t want to claim citizenship in any other country but this one.  Because when you strip away all the things that you may not agree with, one thing does still remain.  

My country is the land of the free…at least so far.  

And as we head into this holiday we celebrate in July – this Independence Day – when we hold picnics and family gatherings and ooo and aah over nighttime fireworks – we must remember one thing.  We must strive, we must fight, we must never give up to keep our freedom no matter what.  And for me, I will also put my trust in God to help me do just that.

For the rest of this week, I’m publishing a photo essay each day until the fourth of July.  And I’m setting my photos to the lyrics of one of my favorite patriotic songs, My Country Tis of Thee.

Join me in commemorating my country, the land of the free and the home of the brave.

“My country tis of thee…”

blogIMG_3624

blogIMG_3324

blogIMG_3674

©2015 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Posted in patriotism, Summer

Freedom to celebrate

blogscanphoto4The first couple of days in July meant one thing when I was a kid.

Dad spent evenings after work mowing the yard and setting up sawhorses with long boards for makeshift tables under the shade of our small apple orchard.

The stars and stripes were hoisted in our front yard.  Mom cleaned the house furiously and labored for hours in the kitchen preparing food including our favorite picnic staples. I could barely contain my excitement.  Independence Day was almost here.

The fourth of July was always the third exciting event of my childhood summers promising a fun-filled day as my parents hosted a picnic celebration at our house each year.   Cars started arriving in the morning loaded with friends and relatives and food, food, and more food.   Our front yard and the berm of our country road resembled a parking lot.

Everywhere you looked there were people.  The older set would rest in lawn chairs under the shade of the apple trees, fanning themselves and reminiscing about days gone by.   In the field on one side of our house, younger folks engaged in a lively softball game.

In another area of the yard, some of us kids would play badminton or Jarts.  My dad and the middle aged men held long-running horseshoe competitions.   The steady clink of metal horseshoes denoting ringer after ringer resounded through the humid air.

People were strewn here and there in lawn chairs and blankets representing the spectrum of humanity, from sleeping babies to younger children,  teens to  20 and 30-somethings, middle-agers to the older generation.

Generations gathered all together, in one place, to celebrate life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness with good food, good fun and good people.    As evening drew nigh and dusk started to fall, everyone gathered up their belongings, jumped into their cars and headed off to watch fireworks, capping off a day well-spent.

Those days of yesteryear continue to be some of my fondest childhood summer memories.   Eventually, the picnics stopped as the older relatives passed away, times changed, and families became spread out.  After my husband and I married and had our own family, I sometimes felt so nostalgic for those huge celebrations and somehow negligent for not providing those opportunities for our own children.

But we lived far away from our families, in the middle of neighborhoods of mostly strangers and our 4th of July celebrations seemed meager.  We attempted to make the holiday exciting with picnic food, sparklers and always watching nearby fireworks displays, where we oohed and ahhed,  but for me it just didn’t compare to my childhood memories.

The closest taste of a huge 4th of July fest our children savored were neighborhood celebrations held in our suburban neighborhood when we lived in the Pacific Northwest.  A few neighbors planned an Independence Day block party one year and a neighborhood tradition was born. Throughout our subdivision, houses were decked out in patriotic decorations, people adorned themselves in red, white and blue, and flags waved happily in the breeze.

Festivities commenced with a neighborhood parade  including kids on bikes, in wagons and strollers, a few mini floats and our neighborhood resident policeman driving the “DARE” police car through our streets.   Enthusiasm to decorate bikes with red, white and blue streamers and mini flags and decide what kind of patriotic outfit to wear ran high at our house.  Our kids couldn’t wait for the gigantic party to begin.

Games for people of all ages from egg toss to races,  prizes, face-painting, craft-making, music and a huge picnic added up to one rousing day of celebration.  When darkness descended, we enjoyed our own neighborhood fireworks.

One year the display was set off in our cul-de-sac (after we all soaked our wood shake shingled roofs down with water) and we lounged on our front lawn watching them and drinking root beer floats –  a day to remember for certain.

And isn’t that what the 4th of July should be?  A day to remember the birth of our nation.  To remember that there is no nation on earth like ours, and our  forefathers fought diligently for us to become a free nation unlike any other.  To remember that thousands of our fellow Americans sacrificed their lives for our many freedoms, even one as trivial as the freedom to close off our streets to traffic and hold a block party.

Today is a day to pause during the celebrations, place one hand over your heart, and salute the American flag and the nation it stands for.   To pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

In my Opportunity book, Chapter 7, Page 4, I will remind myself of this pledge as I see Old Glory wave over our land from houses, buildings, parks and streets.

As I witness another day of celebration and another evening of fireworks bursting through the night sky, I will give thanks that I am an American, living in the land of the free and home of the brave.   May God bless America, land that I love!

“Where liberty is, there is my country.” ~ Benjamin Franklin

©2011 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Posted in patriotism

Strength of our Nation

September 11, 2001 – a day most adult Americans will never forget.   In my lifetime, I have never experienced fear like I felt that day.

DSCN6956
©mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

 

On a business trip out-of-state with a co-worker, all we could think of that day was getting back home to our loved ones.  And that’s exactly what we did.

On this day nine years later, as we remember and reflect, my husband and I were privileged to attend one of the most rousing and inspiring shows I’ve seen in a very long time – the United States Army’s Spirit of America 2010 Tour.

Performed by men and women from the 3rd US Infantry Regiment “Old Guard,” including the Fife and Drum Corps, the Drill Team, and Continental Color Guard, and the US Army Band “Pershing’s Own,” the show brought our country’s history to life through the eyes of the American soldier.   These amazingly talented soldiers held us captive for over two hours with moving songs, narration, enactments, instrumental music, and stunning precision from the Army’s drill team.

The arena was packed and several times the vignettes and music brought tears to my eyes and standing ovations from the crowd.  Especially meaningful was when past military members in the audience were asked to rise from their seats,  be recognized, and given the applause they deserve.

I proudly watched my husband stand as an ex-US Army officer.  An elderly gentleman near us stood as erect and proud as he must have stood in formation as a former US Marine corps man all those years ago.

I could try to describe the overwhelming sense of patriotism and pride that I believe every one in that arena felt today, but instead I’m going to allow my pictures do the talking for me.

The strength of a nation.   That’s what this splendid show portrayed.

God bless America, land that I love.   Land of the free and home of the brave.

Thank you, American soldiers, for keeping it that way!

©2010 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Posted in Life, patriotism, politicians, politics, voting, work

Politics as Usual – Not Today

blogIMG_0345Politics is not a topic of discussion I relish – too explosive for me.  

Usually those discussing politics have polar opposite points of view and the debate can become downright fiery.  

Now don’t get me wrong, I definitely have political opinions, but I don’t enjoy sparring with someone over them.

Since I was given the right to vote at age 18 (more years ago than I care to tell),  I can honestly admit politics were not crucially important to me for many of those years. 

In my early adulthood,  I found politics absolutely mind-numbing.   I still remember desperately trying to keep myself from falling asleep every afternoon in my American Politics class in college.  To me that class was soooo excruciatingly boring, sheer torture.

Sometimes I voted, sometimes I didn’t.  The very first time I voted, it was a Presidential election.  I voted for Nixon.  He won.  Well, you can see where that got us. 

When I was a young mother, busy and exhausted most of the time from riding herd on my brood, I just didn’t have the energy to invest the time to read and keep current on candidate’s platforms, so often the voting polls closed without me darkening the booth. 

But I’ve been a pretty steady voter the last 15 years or so.  There are candidates I endorse heartily and there are candidates that I just cringe to even consider they may be voted into office.

However, you won’t find me in a heated political discussion.   It’s  my husband who gets a real charge out of that topic.  He is a bona fide patriotic veteran, having served his country in the military (thank you, dear!), and he has distinct ideas about how this country should be governed by those we elect to serve us. 

He becomes extraordinarily passionate by this subject of conversation.  Talk about rockets red glare and bombs bursting in air!   He could light up a firework display all by himself when he gets his political ire fired up.

For the most part, politicians don’t seem to possess very stellar reputations.  The late President Ronald Reagan once said, “Politics is supposed to be the second-oldest profession.  I have come to realize that it bears a very close resemblance to the first.”   Wow, that’s calling ’em like you see ’em.

I’ve actually met a couple of politicians personally and I liked them well enough.  My husband once was granted the opportunity to meet President Reagan in person.  It was a very brief meeting, which involved shaking hands, exchanging a few words, and posing for a photo-op, but how many of us ever get to actually shake hands with a former President of the United States?  My hubby considered it a great privilege and the framed photograph of Reagan and him still graces a place of honor on my husband’s office wall.

Today I met another politician.  I am employed part-time with a non-profit organization and today an elected official from our state government came to tour our offices.   We spruced the place up a bit yesterday in anticipation of his arrival but found that he wasn’t that interested in how our office looked.   He was more interested in how he could help us.

Our non-profit has existed for over 25 years now, and yet we still are not well-known.  We’re on the verge of launching a new initiative and we need support to accomplish it.  This elected public servant devoted an hour of his time to us, furnishing names of influential people he thought would be willing to support us, and granting permission to use him as a reference to do so.

I have to admit I was a little skeptical about why he was visiting us in the first place. “Was he just glad-handing and drumming up support for the next re-election?” I thought.  But you know what?  I don’t think he was.  He didn’t pontificate about himself or his “great plan” for this or that in his government capacity.

It didn’t seem like he was on a mission for re-election.   He certainly didn’t have to win over my vote; I’ve voted for him in the past and I will vote for him again.

What really impressed me was his “just a regular Joe” demeanor.  He’s just one of us.  He didn’t display superior attitude because he’s an elected official.  What you see is what you get with him.  If you met him at Wal-Mart, he’d still be who he always has been, a small town boy doing a big time job.

I know that he holds town hall type meetings with his constituents to truly listen to them.  He genuinely seems to want to serve us, to listen to what we think, to be involved in a “government of the people, by the people, for the people…” as Abraham Lincoln said in the Gettysburg Address.  (I did pay attention in history classes!)

This regular Joe is a real person, and you know what I’m thinking?  A great guy like that – maybe he should someday run for the big house!

©2010 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com