On a spring morning in April of 1775, just as the sun began to rise, a shot was fired: one that would change not only a nation, but also the way people governed themselves from then on forth. That day, a simple band of American colonists – farmers, merchants, blacksmiths, printers, men and boys – left the safety and comfort of their homes and families in Lexington and Concord to take up arms and rise up against the tyranny of an empire.
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By Vick Liu (Eighth grade graduate of Dana Middle School)
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The Patriots were fighting for something greater than themselves, something that believed in inalienable rights that every man and woman were god given.
When the war began, the 13 colonies lacked a professional army or navy. Each colony had a local militia, frequently called “Minutemen.” They were rumored to be able to rise and be ready in under a minute’s notice. Militiamen were lightly armed, had little training, and usually did not have uniforms. Their units served for only a few weeks or months at a time, were reluctant to travel far, and lacked training and discipline. All the odds were against them and the whole world was watching to see if a band of rag-tag farmers could overthrow the rule of Great Britain.
And yet, they took that chance. These colonists, however, did not take that chance for a particular group or for money, but on behalf of a larger idea. The idea of freedom. The idea of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. America’s experiment with democracy had begun and the world would be watching America to see what would come out of this bizarre and unknown concept.
What would such patriotism look like? For me patriotism starts as a natural feeling, a loyalty and love for country. A need to argue against those who scold our country. A feeling of security when I am surrounded by my fellow citizens. Patriotism can be as easy as saying the pledge of allegiance every morning or greeting the flag every time you may see it. American citizens should also be willing to love and defend their country, to protect their fellow citizens, to protect their family, to defend the ideals of our republic at any cost, no matter the difficulty.
I remember listening to my history teacher read me a couple lines of the Declaration of Independence while studying U.S. History in the 8th grade- “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal. That they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” I remember him explaining how this declaration applied to every American, with no exceptions to anyone because of religion or ethnicity; how those words, and words of the United States Constitution, protected us from the injustices that others had to live with.
That is why, for me, patriotism is always more than just loyalty to a place on a map or a certain kind of people. Instead, it is also loyalty to America’s ideals – ideals for which anyone can sacrifice, or defend, or give their measure of devotion. I believe it is this loyalty that allows a country teeming with different races and ethnicities, religions and customs, to come together as one.
I believe those who attack America’s flaws without acknowledging the singular greatness of our ideals, and their proven capacity to inspire a better world, do not truly understand America. They do not understand that no country can ever be perfect, that there is no perfect system, but here in America we do believe in the freedom to do as you choose. And that’s what separates us from the rest of the world. Others might criticize America for trying to interfere with countries (e.g. Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, etc.) but on every occasion we have interfered only to help liberate and defend.
Let’s not ever forget about our soldiers. These brave men and women are the ones who keep our nation free. The ones who make sure that you and I don’t have to worry about if we will have food tomorrow or if I’ll die of an injustice. They are the ones who defend our rights and above all else do what we cannot.
And so, my fellow Americans, I hope you all had a great Independence Day this month and, in the words of President John F. Kennedy, may you all ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.
– By Vick Liu