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According to Webster, patriotism is defined as love of country. But like love, patriotism is a subjective emotion. For some, that stirring in the soul that moistens eyes and quickens the beat of a heart when a red, white and blue banner is raised against the backdrop of a new dawn, or at an Olympic event, or high school sporting event, or a Fourth of July fireworks display at our community parks. For others, a sense of deep pride at a military review or a tingle in the spine at the playing of the National Anthem.

In the recent election campaign, the word patriotism was tossed about as a weapon, a derogatory remark, a challenge, a sadly lacking qualification, or an abundance of it, a certain policy that was patriotic and lack of agreement with that policy as bordering near treason. Much of the campaign rhetoric brought forth a rush of negative emotion for patriotism in the political sense. More, the word often brought reinforcement of the mistrust, apathy, and in some cases, anger, that had swelled in the minds of Americans over decades.

Yet, there continued to be a rumbling of hope, It was vigorously stirred by the young, intelligent, and though relatively new on the political scene, confident man who kept insisting that "Yes We Can" renew the values and principles which were the foundation of our constitution and the backbone of our nation. We could rebuild the confidence and trust we are supposed to have in our elected leaders. For the first time in five decades, we weren't told what he could do for us, but what we could, and should, do for ourselves with his help. The election wasn't about him but about us.

Over the last few days, over the entire year, actually, there have been many moments when my soul was stirred and my eyes moistened. I'm continually amazed at the remarkable outpouring of people that jam every conceivable arena, regardless of day, time or weather. Hundreds of thousands have filled stadiums and streets whether it be blistering hot or bone chilling cold, a bright sunny day or a torrential rain. It is a feeling of patriotic hope that I haven't experienced since the sixties when another young and inexperienced man encouraged us to "Ask what you can do for your country."

Can we? The question is, will we? Will we have the patience and determination of a sculptor confronted with a massive slab of granite? Will we see the form and beauty buried within? Are we willing to hammer and chisel the unnecessary away? Are we strong enough to shoulder our share of the load of dislodged debris? A load that will be crushing before it lightens? But, oh so much easier to bear if we all join hands. I think we can. I have to trust that we will.

I do sincerely hope that everyone takes a few moments over the next few days to simply enjoy the celebration of America, to allow themselves a stirring of soul and a tear or two. Wednesday, we will all have to hit the ground running and get to work. We have a nation to renew. Our children and grandchildren are depending on us.

Susan Haley, Author


Member Comments

    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Vikki Hall wrote Jan 18, 2009
    • I have been glued to CNN and MSNBC. Everyone I talk to is either going to DC or watching the events unfold.

      It is exciting.....

            Report  Reply

    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Wittymom wrote Jan 18, 2009
    • It is amazing isn’t it? I am not an emotional person, so imagine my surprise on election night when I felt that teardrop slide down my face. I was one of those that packed an arena to hear him speak during the campaign. I didn’t know what the outcome woul be, but I wanted my daughter to experience the hope that America was feeling. It was worth it. We stood in line for 4 hours talking to people from all backgrounds, sharing snacks and just being amiable. I felt that the America I grew up in had finally become the melting pot that I had always heard about. There are four years ahead, I am hopeful that even with the challenges, the sense of unity, that this country under God, will continue to be supportive of each other, and our President.

            Report  Reply

    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Midnightmom wrote Jan 18, 2009
    • Our new president is a real leader and we haven’t had that in quite a while. It feels good to have hope and a feeling of ‘America’ again. It’s been a long time. Best of all young people are excited and involved this time. We have all the right things in place to succeed.

            Report  Reply

    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Tamra wrote Jan 19, 2009
    • I very much enjoyed reading this, Susan.  Thanks for sharing your talent.

      You are right.  It will be very difficult and will take many, many months if not years to see things turn around.  It has taken years to get in this mess, and it will take some time to get out of it.

      Unfortunately, we Americans today are not patient people.  Our media blasts anyone who makes even the slightest of mistakes offering no patience for errors.  We want “it,” and we want “it” now!  We have difficulty accepting the realities with which we live.  We abuse credit, and find ourselves in dire straits financially.

      But improving things is going to take time.  And I hope we will mature alongside our new President, exerting the efforts that it will take to fix things.

      Are we ready for long road and work ahead of us?

      I am optimistic that indeed, we are.

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