Memorial Day: Defining Patriotism

When I think about patriotism, I think liberty, prosperity, equality, security, bravery, history, diversity, compassion, opportunity. But, I realized, I was over thinking this prompt. To be patriotic is to be American. Americans are proud to honor their country, and everything it stands for. Patriotism is represented most on Memorial Day. I am honored to be able to say that my papa (grandfather), George Yost, was enlisted in the Air Force during WWII.

Although he did not actually fight in the war, while preparing to be sent overseas in training, he crashed his fighter jet in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean on a test run. I was lucky enough to be able to chat, laugh, and remember with him about this experience, unlike so many other Air Force troops that weren’t as lucky and lost their lives in either training or battle. This is what Memorial Day is all about: reminiscing on the past and celebrating the rewards of the success given to us by the ones who have fallen. I am honored to be able to say my grandpa Ray C. Obel fought in the Korean War. When Memorial Day comes around, I think of this man more than anyone because of the damage his service did to him.

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To this day, over 60 years later, my grandpa can still not listen to fireworks because of the haunting nightmares he has from the battlefield. But he doesn’t regret one day he spent fighting for his country. No matter what day it is, it’s important to honor and praise all of our troops. But on Memorial Day, it is important to celebrate and be expressive for the risks our troops have taken for us citizens and help them realize their service will not go without sincere recognition. Progress, success; growth, strength; community, unity; perseverance, persistence; patriotic…This is what it means to be an American.

Memorial Day is a time to express all of these values, no matter how big or small. Memorial Day is for the citizens, the history…Memorial Day is for our troops.