Real patriotism

It hardly seems possible that we are nearly at July 4, but yet summer is here (as anyone who sweated through last week’s heat wave can attest).

But as we gear up to celebrate Independence Day next week we must remember that this isn’t just a day to have barbecues and enjoy the latest adventure of your friendly neighborhood Spiderman (though we do recommend that if at all possible because if we can’t enjoy our freedom by having fun, then we’re kind of missing the point). And this isn’t a call for cheap, patronizing patriotism. There’s enough of that out there already. This is about remembering what being an American is all about.

We have a presidential election looming and there’s few things as annoying and infuriating as using patriotism to score cheap political points. Soon enough we’ll be arguing about which candidate’s flag pin was bigger and which one showed more “reverence” for America. But those are just empty words and too often the true meaning of patriotism is lost in a media and political culture that values cheap symbolism over honest work. Patriotism shines with deeds and not just speeches.

We don’t need people wrapping themselves in the American flag. We need people acting like good Americans and showing compassion and community spirit and making sure we are there for each other. Patriotism doesn’t belong to one political party. It’s about who you are and how you treat others. Fortunately, Greenwich continues to set an example.

It’s about setting a good example as a person, and fortunately we have plenty of that. From Alan Sharkany, a man who came from Weston to give Greenwich a thrill with the return of the Salute to Veterans, to town resident Jim Carrier, who selflessly gives of himself to veteran causes around the country and has encouraged many of our youth to follow the right path of service and selflessness, to the members of local government who gave Mr. Sharkany (and before him Mr. Carrier) all the support they needed to make their events a reality, we have seen people acting like true Americans.

But it doesn’t stop there. How about everyone in the Byram community who worked to create the Salvatore J. Strazza Sr. Memorial Baseball Field? Mr. Strazza for years set an example as an American, working tirelessly to benefit our youth. And this weekend the community told his family “thank you” and showed what a positive influence one person can be. Maybe that doesn’t strike everyone as “patriotic” but it surely is and there are examples of this every day in town from the bold to the subtle.

Doing good and being good is what being an American should be about. Patriotism can’t just be words. It has to be backed up by deeds.

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