Patriotism 2019 Version

In response to a posting about Memorial Day, bright guy calls me and says,

“Different world when you were in your twenties. The draft exerted discipline on how you served the country. The Army was much bigger. We were engaged in a big war. Not the same today. How does a young person harness their patriotic fervor? What does individual patriotism look like in 2019?”

Memorial Day — The View From Another Direction

Good question.

What does an American citizen do today to pick up the patriotic tendencies of a Founding Father?

We chat for a longish time and we come away with the following:

 1. Yes, of course, you can serve in the military. In my day, you had to serve or you had to sit in limbo waiting to see if you got drafted. When the draft lottery was enacted, you knew — from your lottery number — whether you were going to be drafted or not.

So, yes, you can enlist or seek a commission and serve in the Regular Army, the National Guard, the Army Reserves (using the Army, nothing wrong with the Coast Guard or the Air Force).

Image result for images american revolution

 2. You can offer other service — volunteer work, full time work. Imagine yourself volunteering at a Veterans Administration Hospital. Working at a suicide hotline. Feeding the homeless. Maintaining a military cemetery. Cleaning headstones. Volunteer service.

 3. You can serve a specific, worthy charity and advance to a position of responsibility and, perhaps, serve on its Board of Directors.

 4. You become involved in government serving the nation in much the same way a soldier does, but at home.

There are as many different ways to serve the nation as your creativity can uncover. Give it some thought. Better yet, actually do it.

There are some other not so obvious things a patriot should do.

 1. A patriot should know the history of our country. How it was founded — we rebelled against the most powerful nation of its time with the biggest and most virulent army and navy of its time. One Hell of a story.

Know who led that rebellion and who formed our government. Read Ron Chernow’s great books on Washington and Hamilton.

Finish them? Read his book on Grant. Lots of beach time required.

 2. A patriot should know our founding documents and their history. We all should know the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights (amendments to the Constitution). Get a copy of each one. Turn off the television and re-read them once a year. Read them to your kids.

 3. A patriot should know how our government functions within the three co-equal branches of government.

 4. A patriot should know how a law is made.

 5. A patriot should be able to explain all of the above to someone who is an “inquirer.”

 6. A patriot should be intimately involved in the mechanism by which we elect our leaders in our Constitutional bi-cameral representative republic.

 7. A patriot should consider becoming involved in the administration of the voting system as a poll worker, a District chair for a political party, or an Election Judge. I have done this and it is illuminating. You know exactly how every vote is cast and what happens to it.

This list could go for a long time, but you get the idea — be involved in the issues of your day.

A patriot is prepared to drop their plow, pick up their rifle, and run to the sound of the gunfire to defend the nation in times of peril. Be prepared to do just that on an intellectual basis.

We left our conversation with a simple thought — if you are going to be a patriot in 2019, you may break a sweat.

Here’s the good news: “Nobody ever drowned in their own sweat.”

But, hey, what the Hell do I really know anyway? I’m just a Big Red Car. Be good to yourself, patriot. Be thankful. Be humble. Be a patriot.