by Charles Johnson

Johnson; Chet in service gear    Johnson; Clifford Charles, died in WW 2

My patriotism comes from a range of people and experiences. My father (Chester, seen above left) spent 4 years in the army during WWII, on Okinawa. My uncle Clifford Charles Johnson, (seen above right) also in the army, was killed during the Battle of the Bulge. My uncle Don served in the peacetime navy in the late 50s and reenlisted later in the 60s and served on the USS TRIPOLI during the Viet Nam War, where he died at his own hand, a victim of what I believe was PTSD. (I have a letter from him written 2 months before he died. No, I won’t share it here.) Other brothers – Robert, Ken, Henry and Willie – also served. My uncle Dan (mom’s brother) served in the army in the peacetime 50s. His son Mike served. My son in law Jon flew army helicopters in Afghanistan. There are others, including more relatives, friends and former students who have served.
My family always respected the flag at sporting events and parades. We attended Memorial Day services. We stood, saluted, and sang as per tradition.
We saw our country succeed with space shots and moon landings. We saw a president assassinated and then watched all the news that went with it. We witnessed national tragedies that included riots and natural disasters and planes flown into buildings. We saw so many ways that our country was challenge, both nationally and internationally.
I can honestly say these people and experiences gave me a solid patriotism that has been with me all my life.

moon       september11th
It is on the basis of such a background and role models that I can say that my patriotism is not shaken by knee-bending athletes, questioning our leaders (of varying stripes of party affiliation) or burning flags. If anything, though I may not like such actions, the patriotism fostered in me over the years means I must recognize that such things are part of the American fabric that has made us the unique country that we are.

I suspect many of you feel the same way.