Philip! I am talking to you!
PHILIP MALLOY: I have the right to do it.
MISS NARWIN: The what?
PHILIP MALLOY: The right.
MISS NARWIN: I want you to stop it immediately. Your actions are thoroughly disrespectful.
PHILIP MALLOY: It’s you who’s being disrespectful!
MISS NARWIN: Philip!
PHILLIP MALLOY: I was being patriotic. That’s all. It’s a free country. You have no right to stop me. I was just singing to myself.
MISS NARWIN: Philip Malloy, you will leave this room immediately! Report to the principal’s office.
PHILIP MALLOY: You can’t keep me from being patriotic.
MISS NARWIN: Leave!
PHILIP MALLOY: I’m going. I’m going.
From: Nothing But the Truth
written by: Avi
Orchard Books, 1991
According to dictionary.com, patriotism means: “devoted love, support and defense of one’s country; national loyalty.” That’s it.
By the end of first grade, I had memorized the Pledge of Allegiance. My whole class had. Even though I’m not sure any of us knew what all those big words meant (and mean) we recited The Pledge every day, standing, with our hands over our hearts. Then we sang a patriotic song. This continued all through grade school, till the last day of sixth grade.
As much as a first grader could, we understood that patriotism defined us as a country, a society. Even though we practiced different religions away from school, even though our parents may have spoken different languages, even though we all looked different from each other, those very differences were what made us “one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”
Most of our fathers fought in WWII or Korea or both. Most of our mothers did some form of service, too. My mom was in the WAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service).
Lots of my classmates fought in Vietnam.
Why did so many people do so many patriotic acts? Why do so many continue to fight for our rights?
Because since the time we fought Great Britain for the right to govern ourselves, our founding fathers (and mothers) knew that each person needs to be allowed to hold his or her own beliefs about what is right or wrong. And that right needs to be protected.
I believe in the freedom of expression, whether I agree with what is being expressed or not. Whether the action is spoken or knelt. Whether a protest is screamed or silent, So even though I believe in the right to sit passively as a flag passes by and the right to kneel when the National Anthem is played, I DO stand on those occasions.
The people who fought (and continue to fight) to protect our right to sit and kneel, to scream and to be silent have earned my respect.