Pondering the meaning of patriotism this July 4

As the city prepares to celebrate Independence Day with a wreath-laying ceremony July 4, and the folks in Bayview Beach get ready for their annual Pots and Pans parade in honor of Independence Day, a local writing group has been pondering the meaning of patriotism.

For one member of the senior writing group led by resident Judy Goldwyn, the word ‘patriotism’ brought back memories of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, after which Americans rallied and American flags waved high.

For others, it brought back lessons learned during military service. And for others it brought to mind the words of the late John F. Kennedy: "Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country."

Goldwyn has been teaching the writing class at the Milford Senior Center for seven years. With Independence Day approaching and with political disarray in the country, she thought it would be appropriate to ask the class to write about patriotism.

She said their responses left her in awe.

One class member, Terry Pitt, recalled a two-week tour of the northwest in 2001, which brought her to Canada at the time that terrorists attacked the United States.

“The TV in our view suddenly caught my attention,” she wrote. “An airliner was crashing into the south tower of the World Trade Center.

“Then North Tower fell into the building where I worked; then a picture of a priest’s body on the altar of the Catholic Church where I made a visit before work each day.”

She recalled seeing American flags on front lawns in Canada, and receiving sympathy from store clerks and waiters in restaurants there, and then leaving Canada and returning home.

“As we rolled over the border, patriotism roiled up, patriotism burst out of me, ‘God bless America,’ I sang. Everyone joined in. We were in our our home country, we were in the United States of America.”

Ed Russell wrote that being patriotic does not require blind love or blind loyalty.

“We are not perfect. No nation is,” he wrote.

“I would argue that it is the very freedom to dissent that provides patriotism its life-sustaining fibre,” Russell wrote.

Rose Goldstein wrote about the pride that Americans felt during WWII.

“We were invincible, we were the best, and we were lucky to live in the USA,” she wrote. “I know it's not the same now, but, undoubtedly, it wasn't perfect then either.  

“We have been loved, we have been hated, we have been envied, but we have never been ridiculed or embarrassed until now,” she continued. “As a patriotic person, I say there is hope. I must believe it.”

Shirley Bilski wrote a poem: “I love the USA, for what it used to be, but now it seems divided, as I’m sure that you can see.”

She ends by hoping that common sense will reunite the country.

Vin Pozzuoli, who served two years in the military, wrote that patriotism it is an attitude.

“It is being passionate about our American way of life. It means being loyal to our country and what it stands for,” he wrote.

“And despite what a current political slogan proclaims, America doesn't need to be great again, America is and always will be great,” Pozzuoli added.

The City of Milford will host its annual Independence Day wreath-laying ceremony Tuesday, July 4, in front of City Hall at 8:45 a.m. A short walk to Milford Cemetery to lay a wreath at the Revolutionary War Memorial Monument will follow.