I have a song in my head that I have been humming all day:
First to fight for the right,
And to build the Nation’s might,
And The Army Goes Rolling Along.
Proud of all we have done,
Fighting till the battle’s won,
And the Army Goes Rolling Along.
The last time I heard it was a few months ago, when many voices joined together to sing their theme song at the close of my brother’s military retirement ceremony.
From Fort Leonard Wood to Fort Hood to Bosnia and Herzegovina, and then to Fort Riley, SFC Bradley Young served in an engineer battalion and company.
Then after serving in a recruiting battalion with the U.S. Army for several years, he joined Missouri Army National Guard Recruiting and Retention Battalion and wrapped up his career serving at Truman State University as the Missouri Army National Guard Liaison and Assistant Recruiting Operations Officer.
A few short weeks after his retirement became official, my brother’s youngest daughter “joined up.” Destry wrapped up her Basic Combat Training earlier this month and is currently in Advanced Individual Training School.
My brother did not push either of his daughters toward a military career. Both girls are patriotic. They support and love our country equally. My sister and I, too, support and love our country, but neither chose the same path as our brother.
My parents instilled in all of us a sense of patriotic responsibility. We learned to respect the American flag and to pledge our allegiance to it.
That early teaching was reinforced through 4-H, where at camp we participated in flag raising and lowering ceremonies each day. We learned how to clip the flag to the rope so it would easily glide to the top of the pole and fly freely in the breeze, but more importantly, we learned how to handle it with respect.
We observed our parents’ belief in the Unites States of America as a government of the people, by the people, for the people; whose just powers are derived from the consent of the governed. We witnessed the awed respect our elders held for our country, their belief of duty to love and support our Constitution, and to obey its laws.
Like many of you in America’s heartland, I have ancestors that fought in the American Revolutionary War and nearly every war or conflict since in which American soldiers were called to action. We grew up hearing the stories of our ancestors who had sacrificed so much as American patriots so that we could enjoy freedom.
And yet no one in my family ever tried to force me to accept their definition of patriotism. I have been voting for 40 years and not once have I been encouraged or dissuaded from voting for a specific candidate.
Respect and honor go hand and hand with freedom.