Forward thinking: On being a patriot

It was July 4, 1776 . . .

Representatives of the Second Continental Congress assembled at the Pennsylvania State House in Philadelphia.  They had gathered to sign one of the most important and ambitious documents in human history — the Declaration of Independence.

The final line of the Declaration of Independence is a magnificent statement of human resolve. It proclaims: With a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred honor.”

In other words, there was no turning back. They were on record to be willing to the pay the ultimate price for their freedom. They had taken their responsibility seriously and did all they could with confidence that God would do his part and today, we are still reaping the dividends of their courage.

Stated somewhat differently, their courage equipped them with both a willingness and ability to risk who they were and what they had in order to gain what they wanted and who they wanted to become.

As I have paused and reflected on America today, I find myself wondering how much we are willing to risk for our country collectively because we don’t truly realize that everything we have came with a price. It wasn’t free. There is a price to pay for gaining freedom and there is a price to pay to maintain it.

Don’t misunderstand me, our patriotism should include celebrating our country on Independence Day and supporting our troops and honoring them on Memorial Day and Veterans Day as we are doing today.

However, there is a lot more!

That brings me to a question that begs to be addressed. What exactly is “patriotism?” Have you ever stopped and thought about it?

Webster’s Dictionary defines the word “patriotism” as follows: “Love of one’s country; The passion which aims to serve one’s country, either in defending it from invasion, or protecting its rights and maintaining its laws and institutions in vigor and purity.”

The clear implication of Webster’s definition of “patriotism” is that it involves maintaining our laws as spelled out in the Constitution of the United States. It also calls us to safeguard our institutions, including our police and military along with schools, churches and most importantly our homes.

However, there is more in Webster’s Dictionary of “patriotism.”  “Patriotism is the characteristic of a good citizen, the noblest passion that animates a an n the character of a citizen.

To “animate” means “to make alive.” In other words, it is saying that patriotism is the noblest passion, which causes a person to come alive as a responsible citizen! I share this with you because I for one believe it is time for our country to “come alive.” It is time for us to act before it is too late!  And this can only happen if we are knowledgeable of what needs to be done . . . and then do it!

We must be ever mindful that the freedom we have will not remain unless maintained. And if it’s lost out of neglect or willingness to pay the price, we will realize too late that we have created our fate.

Freedom will cost all of us a “portion” of our time. I repeat — all of us. But bondage will cost “all of your time and all of your freedom.” You may be wondering where to start. I would encourage you to begin by getting involved locally.

Invest some time and energy in learning about the issues in your community. It is amazing what a letter, phone call or a brief conversation over coffee can accomplish. Make an effort to attend a city council business meeting or work session. Look into volunteer opportunities in your city or town.

As you do so, I can promise you this: Your sense of responsibility will rise, and you will begin to “come alive” in a way you never expected.

Over 240 years ago, standing in Independence Hall, our forefathers literally risked everything for our freedom. And now it is our turn to fight the good fight.

It‘s part of our responsibility as citizens. It’s what it means to be a patriot.

Until next time . . .

— By Loren Simmonds

Loren Simmonds has been a resident of Lynnwood for 37 years. He served on the Lynnwood City Council for 16 years, including eight as Council President. He remains active in the community by serving on the Parks and Recreation Foundation Board, Civil Service Commission and the Snohomish County Planning Commission. He believes that volunteerism sows the seeds of community. Loren is semi-retired and works as a writer, speaker and leadership coach.

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