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Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Reconsidering Patriotism

Most of my adult life I haven't felt very patriotic. Some of my resistance can be traced to going to college during the turbulent 60s; some of it to a general tendency I have to be contrary; some of it because I've never wanted to seem aligned with people who strike me as using the flag and their own patriotism as a blunt instrument to attack those who don't agree with their politics.

Lately I've found myself reconsidering the whole concept of patriotism. I trace my reconsideration to three things. First are two books I recently finished: Laura Hilldebrand's bestseller "Unbroken", which tells the incredible saga of Louis Zamperini, and the late Tim Russert's memoir "Big Russ and Me", which recalls the less "heroic" life of Russert's own Dad.

Both books are worth reading although neither is on my Top 10 of the past year. Despite that, I found myself strongly identifying with the bedrock values both men personify - hard work, loyalty to family. I also saw so much of my own Father in Zamperini & Russert Sr.; all 3 were working class, WWII vets. In addition, while reading, my Father came to mind more and more as the authors described the strong patriotism of Zamperini & Russert Sr. I sensed a shift in my longheld resistance.

Then, just before Father's Day, my sister sent me a music video called "Before You Go" that reminds people to thank WWII vets before they all leave us. And my reconsidering of patriotism continues.

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