I am a proud American and I have a lot of loyalty to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts but I also have a lot of feelings about patriotism and how we show it. My ways of showing patriotism are pretty simple, actually. I sing (badly) the National Anthem and I still get goosebumps when it comes to the line oh say does that start spangled banner yet wave. I place my hand over my heart with pride when I pledge allegiance to our flag. I place flags in my window boxes and buntings on my house on Memorial Day and leave them up until the 4th of July. I vote in every election.
On the other hand, you’ll never find me driving a pick up truck with an American flag flying from the back. I’m a local politician but I don’t wear a flag pin on my lapel every time I go out in public and I don’t think it’s mandatory to say “God Bless America” at the end of every speech. That’s what works for me. And, to use one of my favorite but probably overused expressions, you do you. Meaning, you show your patriotism your way and I’ll show it my way.
Today, of all days, let’s allow our patriotism to bring us together and not divide us. Let’s remember that clear blue sky of 17 years ago before our world was changed . . . before we were afraid to fly in a plane, before the start of the war on terror, before almost 3000 people were killed because of hatred, before the collective trauma of that day altered our lives in a permanent way.
Let’s not let those attacks, attacks designed to create fear and terror, define us as a nation. Instead, let’s remember how we acted in the days after the attack. We were scared but we were grateful. We hugged our kids and told them things that would make them feel safe. We told our partners we loved them. We reached out to our families and we called our friends. We turned off the televisions and we stood on the side of the road and we held candles and we stood tall.
We acted as one. Let’s do that again. Okay?