“I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation, under God, indivisible with liberty and justice for all.”
Ever since I was a very young girl, these words have found a place in my heart that is moved every single time I hear them. When I hear the opening notes of our country’s national anthem, tears automatically well up in my eyes. I have cried at countless baseball and football games as I sing through my tears, “o’er the land of the free, and the home of the brave.”
My daddy was drafted right out of high school in 1967, and after a quick bootcamp, off he went to Viet Nam. He was a front-line army medic.
He saw the worst of what war can do to a body. He never wanted to talk about his time in Viet Nam. What has stuck with me more than anything is overhearing him say, “I spent my first night there in a bunker, under fire, curled up in the fetal position crying.” Maybe that is when my love for America and the men who fought for her took root in my girlish heart and began to grow.
My parents taught me and my sister love for America, for those who serve in the military, and the utmost respect for those who made the ultimate sacrifice for freedoms we take for granted. Sometimes when I see young men leaving their hats on during the Pledge of Allegiance or see young ladies giggling through “and the rocket’s red glare,” I am saddened and worried that we, as a nation, are not teaching our children the importance of patriotism, military, and the constitution.
My boys are both now young men and I wonder if I have done my job not only as their mother, but as an American, a patriot? Do they remove their hats during the pledge? Do they place their hands over their hearts every single time? Do they understand how important our military is to our everyday luxuries and freedoms?
From this Mamma’s point of view, I often feel like I have done a poor job of teaching them proper reverence and respect for our soldiers, veterans and those who gave all.
On Memorial Day I completed the Murph Challenge. Done every Memorial Day in honor of Lt. Michael P. Murphy. A SEAL who sacrificed his own life to save that of his team during Operation Red Wings, the Murph Challenge consists of a one-mile run, 100 pull-ups, 200 push-ups, 300 squats and another one-mile run. Those who are able wear a 20-pound weighted vest.
I had never completed this challenge and did not intend to on this day. It was suggested to me as I walked in the gym and it spoke to my heart. I put my music on a patriotic station, and I began to run. After the run came the pull-ups and I heard America the Beautiful, God Bless the USA, My Country Tis of Thee and so many beautiful songs that tears began coursing down my face along with the sweat.
Before I knew it, this workout became extremely emotional for me. Those men and women who gave their lives for MY freedom faced conditions and situations that I will never be able to fathom. Someone’s young son felt that bullet rip through him and he KNEW he would never see his mamma again, a father felt that grenade explode and he knew he would never see his baby girl again... each of the souls who died to give us freedom deserve to be remembered. I will never know what putting boots on the ground feels like, I will never know the sheer terror of facing a Redcoat, a Nazi, a North Vietnamese soldier, or a terrorist, but this workout helped me appreciate their sacrifice that in the selfish and divided America we live in today seems to be taken for granted.
This mamma decided right then to make sure my boys understand, respect, appreciate and KNOW that their freedoms were paid for by the blood of heroes.
My oldest came to see me this evening and before I even mentioned what was on my heart, he said, “mom, I’ve been watching the news and if I have to enlist to fight for our constitutional rights, I will.” This Mamma’s heart swelled with love and pride. Maybe I haven’t done such a poor job after all. God bless America, God bless our military, and God bless our President.
Charlette Madden is a Mother of 2, a Louisiana Tech graduate, a Financial Advisor and a Feature Writer for The Gazette. Contact her via email at firstname.lastname@example.org