Extending past the unfurling of our flag, pressing beyond the ground-shaking march of struck drums and bellowing tubas must be an enduring patriotism for our country–for the United States of America. It pains me to agree with Thomas Sowell‘s recent statement, and thus to acknowledge, “how little remains of the patriotic glue that holds a society together.”
I’m calling today for open expressions of patriotism, of flying our flag on this ordinary non-holiday, of tender words rolled from our mouths, yet connected with honest and chilling understandings of our flaws. Clarity demands we see national fissues and glitches, the perplexing skin of today’s world, and of the “mere humanness” of leadership. Patriotism prevents our jeering, childish scoffing, and certainly, the tearing from our roof, the very tiles designed to hold at bay evil storm.
I was heartened to read of General Pace and his emotions as he recently spoke of his immigrant father.
Washington Post Staff Writers
Tuesday, July 10, 2006: Page A03
MIAMI, July 10–A congressional hearing on immigration came to a dramatic pause Monday when Gen. Peter Pace, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, choked up as he talked about his Italian immigrant father and the opportunities that America had given to his family.
A hush fell over the auditorium at Miami Dade College as Pace, a Marine who was born in Brooklyn, N. Y., and grew up in Teaneck, N.J., was overcome with emotion and struggled to continue reading from his statement as the opening witness at the field hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Pace was explaining his family’s origins to the committee and the opportunities he and his three siblings enjoyed in America when he lost his composure, much to the surprise of the 150 people gathered in the hearing room and to the five senators, who sat riveted as the general paused.
After he composed himself, Pace described his older sister, who went to law school, and his older brother, who, like himself, attended the Naval Academy and was a Marine.
“There is no other country on the planet that affords that kind of opportunity to those who come here,” Pace concluded. The audience burst into applause.
Pace’s father was born in Italy in 1914, immigrated to the United States and became an electrician in New York City, raising four children there. Pace, whose last name means “peace” in Italian, is a 1967 graduate of the Naval Academy and has served in Thailand, Korea and Japan.
I’m concluding this column with observations again by Thomas Sowell. Be reminded to think clearly: be not quick to judge the following as contrary to the previous words of General Pace.
The decline and fall of the Roman Empire was as much due to the internal disintegration of the ties that bind a society together as to the assaults of the Romans’ external enemies.
The pride of being a Roman citizen was destroyed by cheapening that citizenship by giving it to too many other people. The sense of duty and loyalty eroded among both the elites and the masses.
Without such things, there could be no Roman Empire. Ultimately, without such things, there can be no United States of America. In neither case have tangible wealth and power been enough to save a country or a civilization, for the tangibles do not work without the intangibles.
I believe you who read my column frequently know I am a lover of God, of my family, of people everywhere and of my country. Today, I make a renewed call for Patriots–for allegiance to our country–the United States of America. And to my readers from other parts of the world, I implore you to love what’s good in your world, to pray for your leaders and to carry high your flag.