I believe that good citizens make great nations. There may be many ways to define the status of a nation. One might choose the productivity measured by gross national product, or the size of a country’s military, or something more idealistic, like its founding principals. But I believe that the true indicators are the acts and deeds of the citizenry, including both leaders and common folks. Such acts and deeds occur both at times of crisis and on a daily basis.
A few years ago, my father, a member of the “Greatest Generation”, gave me a cap with an American flag prominently displayed on the front. As a matter of fact, the flag had little bulbs embroidered in so that it could be made to light up. I never wore the hat, and I eventually included it with items donated to a clothing drive. Imagine my chagrin when he then produced another one upon my next visit.
I do not feel that I need to display “Old Glory” on my person in order to be patriotic. Although I never served in the military, I vote regularly and donate blood three or four times a year. When called to sit on a federal grand jury, I did not try to evade my civic duty.
I volunteer annually to clean up our local stream, and I once spent two weekends helping with other community members to rehabilitate an old graveyard. I contributed ten years on the Township Planning Commission, and another five years on the Board of Directors of the County Conservation District. Currently, I am working with a group of interested history buffs on the restoration of an old grist mill.
These contributions pale in comparison to others in my neighborhood. Some work on the hospital auxiliary and others are involved with charities. My daughter gave up a year of her young career to work as an intern for Big Brothers/Big Sisters, an organization known for successfully providing mentors for children.
Countless people serve as soccer coaches and scout leaders. Others perform accounting for the church, or build sets for the school play. There are plenty of things to do for both chiefs and Indians. The needs are endless.
And let us not forget the efforts of first responders. We are all indebted to the emergency personnel who spend untold hours in training. If your house were to catch fire, wouldn’t you want dozens of firefighters to show up within a matter of minutes to save your home?
Volunteerism and collaboration are the very essence of civilization. Such acts form the bonds that hold modern societies together. There is no government, local or federal, which can provide all of the services necessary for humankind to enjoy a suitable standard of living.
It is the accumulation of the lives and activities of an entire populace over a period of decades that determines the character of a nation. As far as I am concerned, the fine folks who give of themselves are all unsung heroes. They are true patriots.
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