Her comment came alive for me a few days ago, when I read this statement by Dr. Ronald Tiersky, distinguished professor of political science at Amherst College. He wrote:
Patriotism is fundamental to liberty because pride in one’s nation-state, and a willingness to defend it if necessary, is the basis of national independence. Patriotism is the courage of national self-determination.
By contrast, nationalism is patriotism transformed into a sentiment of superiority and aggression toward other countries. Nationalism is the poisonous idea that one’s country is superior to somebody else’s. Nationalism is intrinsically a cause of war and imperialism.
This day, this week is always tearful for me. The friends who did not return and the friends who still carry the weight of war, bring me to a place of sorrow and yet profound gratitude. I wish I could repair the hearts of mourners, the minds of the traumatized, the bodies of the broken. But, I can’t. I can only honor their courage and their efforts by how I live.
When our National Anthem is played, my thoughts are always focused on the courageous masses who have offered me the gift of freedom. For them I stand, for them I sing. The hope, the dream is liberty and justice for all – not just me, or you, for all. It is a weighty dream, but collectively, there is the possibility that it can become a reality, don't you agree?
Perhaps our collective hope depends on you and me. The veterans have created a path for us; but, we need to embrace the dream.
If there is to be liberty and justice for all, I suspect you and I must summon the courage of patriotism and do our part to make the dream a reality through the everyday choices we make.