When I was a flight attendant, I sometimes worked in Europe for weeks without coming home. I didn’t realize how much I missed the American flag until I passed the American embassy in a cab. I got tears in my eyes at the sight of the red, white and blue rippling in the breeze. Until that moment, it hadn’t occurred to me that I was a patriot.
Many years later, my daughter joined the Marines. I came to be acutely aware of the cost of keeping our flag flying. I met with mothers of other Marines, shared their pride in their amazing, dedicated sons and daughters, and was there for them when pain and tragedy befell them.
I am bemused that the definition of patriot has come to mean someone with certain political and religious affiliations. I don’t belong to the groups normally associated with “patriotism.” I don’t even talk about it much. I didn’t plan it or choose it, it’s just there in my heart. I love our beautiful, flawed country and I’m fiercely proud of our flag.
A faded or tattered American flag flying on a home or a business makes me sad. I try to contact people to respectfully ask them to take it down or replace it. No one has told me to mind my own business. I guess that’s because they know that, in a way, I am.