When American soldiers were hitting Omaha beach, named after my home town, a name taken from a tribe of native Americans, thousands of us were in the Manchester area, fairly north in England in a continuous process of reconditioning and of upgrading hundreds and hundreds of aircraft engines, a process that didn't end until the day of the ending of the war itself.
These were my thoughts, stimulated by the display and shooting of fireworks over Independence Day this past weekend. Love of country and patriotism were talked about by politicians this weekend as well. I don't have any thoughts of soldiers talking about patriotism nor as to whether the term would have better equipped us for the war at hand.
It was personal effort that undergirded that collective linkage of those behind the lines and that connected us to those who were facing death moment to moment. It was not romantic love of country nor the vagueness of patriotism that dominated our thinking.
It is only when these thoughts no longer exist in the minds of those who once lived at that time that they will be referred to as history, love of country and patriotism. There is a certain emptiness in politicans' words, usually made audible during the 4th along with the noise of fireworks contrasted to the reality of war.
Our love of country comes in the manner in which we link our thoughts to the efforts of the soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan and in the care we give them from afar, and as they return, in the manner we help them renew their lives here. The personal attention given them and to each returned body of individuals who once made up part of this country proves our love of country.
Our patriotism is in the manner we give proper attention to their families and to their returning soldiers as they rejoin the country that loves them.
It's not in one day's fireworks, nor in the excuse for a long weekend.
Our patriotism is the way this country cares for its children, its sick and needy, the elderly and those human beings referred to as troops and returning soldiers. This is love of country and the way we display sound patriotism.
The fireworks cost millions. Yet can we afford these displays but not the adequate care of returning soldiers?