In the many years of my life I have had a chance to speak to people from all different walks of life and all different cultures as well. Many of which I am still in contact with. Coming from a Military background it is easy and not so easy for me to explain to you what I think Patriotism is.

It is a feeling, deep down inside. A belief that was born almost as soon as you were. A love that stands strong through the years and just grows stronger during the trials. You can’t just become a Patriot, you can’t just adopt Patriotism; it is bred within you, nurtured and encouraged. It is a love for your country, a love for your countrymen/countrywomen, a love and thankfulness for your freedoms, a realization of the lives of the men and women lost for your right to have those freedoms, a respect for the men and women who wake up daily to go run 2+ miles to keep in shape, who dawn the Uniform, lace the boots and serve a much higher power than you could imagine. The power of the American people. Patriotism is stepping forward, signing your name on a contract agreeing to give your life if needed to ensure others may have a life. It is respecting the symbol of our country, the U.S. Flag, respecting what she represents. Most of all, Patriotism is LOVE, HONOR & RESPECT.

My father was 82nd Airborne in the Korean War. My love for my country, my love for my military began with my daddy. After I joined the Army, I had a conversation with my mom…..she was upset that the Army was sending me somewhere unsafe. I looked her in the eye and told her, “Mom, I knew when I signed that line that one day, any day, I might have to do this. You were so proud of me then, be proud of me now, for I know what I am doing and I am going so that others may one day have the same freedoms as us and to keep it from becoming an American War on American soil”. She looked at me with tears in her eyes and told me to be safe.

Sometimes we need a reminder of what Patriotism is, but sadly our country seems to only remember their Patriotism on holidays and with a BBQ, fireworks and alcohol. Patriotism needs to remembered every day, we need to breed it in our children, and encourage our children to love their country, to support their Military, to understand our history, where we have been, where we are now and where we should be going. To register to vote, to use their freedom of speech and to never stop loving who we are as a country, to understand that we make mistakes but that doesn’t change who we are, what we are. We need to remember daily the sacrifices given every day, for the years before us and the ones that will be given for the years after us by our men and women in the military. Not just physical but mentally as well. We need to visit the Memorials built to honor the brave more than just once a year. Patriotism is LOVE, HONOR & RESPECT. LOVE OF COUNTRY, HONOR OF THE BRAVE & RESPECT OF OUR FOREFATHERS AND ALL THEY STOOD FOR AND WANTED FOR US.

Nina Collins

Jasper, Texas