Living overseas gives you a perspective of other countries' patriotism. In Brazil, they decorate their neighborhoods with yellow, green and blue before the World Cup. They wear the sea blue, earth green and six stars on their t-shirts with confidence as their cheer for their sixth World Cup championship. Not their team's; theirs.
The past few days I've seen more external American pride. I've see flags being tucked into flower pots and hung outside. People at the airport wearing their Old Navy 4th of July t-shirts or other red, white and blue garb. I've seen red, white and blue carnations on kitchen tables.
Living overseas gives you a new perspective on your own and your fellow countrymen's believes on patriotism. At times you fill with pride when you see images and hear decisions made. At other times you can cringe when you see images on tv and the news of reactions to events or news.
A few weeks ago, two small moments reminded me of my American pride.
Moment one...Cubs' game
After a long rain delay, we finally entered Wrigley. We sat in center field. Shortly after we found our seats, we were being asked to stand for the national anthem. Caps were removed and the fans turned to face center field where a large flap was draped downward since there wasn't any wind. The singer began the first verse which we all know. As the song continued, as usual, others began to join the singer. I watched other fans. Some had their hands over their hearts. Others smiled or swayed. Others just stood silently. I found myself surprised as the song continued that I was moved. The lyrics that I've sung so many times. The words I've heard others sing filled me up in a different way. It struck me in a different way than it had in a while. I was proud to be in such a large group watching this team which we all had a strong feeling would lose but still this group of people all knew the same rituals and routines I did. And these rituals and routines brought use closer.
Moment two...Starbucks soldier
At Starbucks a few weeks ago, Andrea I noticed a mom and son finishing their breakfast. The boy was about 4 or 5 years old and sitting with his mom at a table by the door. As on any other day, other customers entered while we waited for our order to be filled. We got most of our drinks and then realized they missed one of our orders. We asked them to make it and while we waited, a National Guardsman entered. He waited for his drink to be finished. I heard the mom's voice say, "We just wanted to come over and say hi." The solider bent down and started to speak to the boy. Their conversation was quiet so we couldn't really hear what was being said. The mom said, "Thanks for all that you do. We appreciate it." I saw the solider reach up to his shoulder and heard the rip of velcro. He pulled something out of a pocket and gave it to the little boy. He pressed something into his hand. The mom said, "Thanks again." The solider smiled. The little boy turned around with a huge grin and they left Starbucks. Appreciation by both the solider and the little boy. Our order was ready so we left too.
Both of these small occasions remind me that though my external pride might not always be there I do have it. Though Americans don't agree on everything, and at times that everything can feel like anything, I'll be optimistic and say that everyone has some American pride. Some of us wear it on our t-shirts. Others decorate our homes. Others like me may ebb and flow with our show of external pride as much but it's there. I found national symbols can surprise us and remind us of the pride that we do have. Just wanted to share a couple of stories for those of us whose red, white and blue may be worn on the inside today.
Happy 4th all!