Susie and I visited Philadelphia a little over a week ago. That visit, coupled with the approach of Fourth of July, has made me think about patriotism. We went to most of the typical tourist sights. We had each been when we were kids, but thought it would be interesting to see again. One place we visited was Independence Hall where they signed the Declaration of Independence. The picture below is of that nicely restored room. The tour guide was very careful to let us know that though the furniture was of that era and matched descriptions of the original, it was not all original pieces. Regardless, it gave a sense of what it would have looked like.
The guide told us that even though they worked on the negotiations during the heat of the summer, they kept the windows closed and the blinds drawn so no one would know what they were doing. He told of the risks they took in signing that document.
A relative of Susie’s (John Hart) was a signer and his role led to him having to go into hiding and the British raiding his farm. My initial thought was that I wished I had the opportunity to stand up and risk everything for my beliefs and my country. The more I thought about it, the more I realized I was glad that I did not have to as I am not certain how well I would act. Further, it is not like such opportunities all vanished 200 years ago. They are available today. Those were very humbling thoughts.
Years ago someone asked me if it was possible to be patriotic if you did not agree with your country. My response was something to the effect that it is sort of like being in a family. You may not always agree with your family members, but they are family and you stand by them. You try to correct them, you try to improve them, and you try to serve them. You may even have to give them tough love and stand in the way of them doing something wrong. But, you love them and you stand by them.
In that sense, I aspire to be a patriot. I may disagree with much that is going on in my country, but it is my country. As such, I must try to improve it. Even if that means risking something. I hope I can find my way to live up to the Founding Fathers of our country. And, to that young man whose picture was marched through the parade.