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On My Mind: Patriotism is Bigger than Politics


In the last two weeks, each 24-hour period has been marked by a new divisive narrative. It’s been hard to keep up.

America tuned into one of sports biggest nights. Pageantry and pomp and circumstance were on full display for the sport’s centennial celebration. Red, white and blue were recognized; Old Glory revered, and members of the Greatest Generation were singled out and saluted.  

We’ve since argued the artistry and appropriateness of the halftime entertainment. We criticized and championed the manifesto made about our Ragged Old Flag. 

We’ve held the State of the Union, seen the great divide across the aisles and witnessed the “rip seen ‘round the world.” Votes were cast; verdicts reached. Some are happy; some are mad.

Candidates continue to campaign; ballots have been counted…and recounted; resignations have been handed in. We watch. We wait. We wonder.

These are perilous times.  

As a nation, we seem more fractured than ever. That we are divided more than we are united. In the ways that we communicate and commiserate, we increasingly seek our own reflections, surrounding ourselves with others that talk like us, believe like us, even look like us… thus stepping farther and farther away from those we don’t recognize as familiar.

Whether you believe Jennifer Lopez and Shakira were the epitome of powerful entertainment or too risqué for viewers of all ages; whether you are emboldened or enraged by the recent political outcomes; whether you label yourself Republican, Democrat, left or right or refuse a label at all…there is one thing that we can all claim. 

We are American. 

And we’ve been able to share our voice in support of whatever we believe because of those who have fought to make us free. Those like Sgt. 1st Class Javier J. Gutierrez, 28, of San Antonio, Texas, and Sgt. 1st Class Antonio Rodriguez, 28, of Las Cruces, New Mexico who both lost their lives last week serving overseas in Afghanistan. May we always remember their names, share their ultimate sacrifice with future generations and hold their friends, families and fellow service members close.

Being a patriot does not mean you lean left or run right. Being a patriot means you love the country in which you live and the quality of life you lead as you please. Patriotism is bigger than politics.  

Patriotism means you are proud to live in the land of the free because of the brave. The courageous few who were honored at the Super Bowl and State of the Union alike, to represent the more than 18 million of our nation’s veterans and nearly 1.5 million active duty troops currently serving around the world today. 

How do we show our respect to those who literally fight for us all, even when our interests and opinions may conflict with their own? In a country full of blessings so often assumed as birthrights, how do we honor those that risk and endure so much, see, feel and bear witness things so visceral we’ll never fully understand? How do we ensure that once they have taken care of us, we will forever care for them? 

We unite; we lace up, and we stand together.

Instead of patriotism dividing us into red or blue, it should bring us together under the Stars and Stripes to remember the history of our great Nation, revere those who have fallen for our independence, respect those who have served and continue to serve us all. We must recognize our own influence in the future of what’s to come – patriotism both unifies and sustains us.  

So whatever side of the road you have been walking on in the last few days, one thing is certain:

We are American. 

It is – frankly – a privileged position to be in.