In the 1970s I lived in Japan for five years. I taught English, while practicing meditation and studying Tea Ceremony and Flower Arrangement. My daughter was born during those years.
One day two business men came to our home for their English class. They brought a book with them. It was a large coffee-table hardback volume with photos of ships on its cover. The three of us sat around a small table on the tatami mat floor. They opened the book to show me, page by page, all the U.S. ships Japan had destroyed during World War II. As they proudly pointed out one after another, I recoiled in horror. They saw victory where I saw my dad and uncles. For the first time, I consciously felt patriotism.
I grew up on a farm where the flag flew high each day. Dad was a veteran of WWII; mom was a Rosie the Riveter during the war. I remember the leftover ration coupons, the stories dad would tell, the fears of another war. Still, I did not feel patriotic until I was confronted with another person’s pride in their country.
Fast forward through the decades that include the Korean and Vietnam wars, that include my brother, my spouse and my cousins, that include the young veterans I worked with at a Southern California college, I can now say that I am very patriotic.
Returning to the women who peacefully marched last Saturday to strongly express their beliefs, I am so proud to be an American. My sentiments are not about our President, his selection of staff and certainly not about the elected officials serving in the House or Senate. My sense of pride lies in the fact that we can express our hopes and dreams.
I have no tolerance for thuggery – the destruction of property, violence against others – attributable to whatever cause. I have no respect for such behavior. It has nothing to do with our protected rights to express ourselves.
To the women who marched, thank you. To the men who accompanied them – in person or in spirit, thank you. To those who have voiced their support of our new President, thank you. To those who pray for the emergence of a more charitable, equitable, just country – thank you.
To all, who with pride and dignity, stand as free Americans to voice their heartfelt beliefs – peacefully – THANK YOU. So many others do not have our freedoms.
May God bless these United States.