27 Jun 2017

Patriotism on Nantucket

In his 1992 country ballad, “Some Gave All,” Billy Ray Cyrus implores us to love our country, live with pride and not to forget those who died. As Cyrus recounts the words of his hero friend who went to war a boy and returned a man, he’s reminded that there are many who still don’t understand the reasons we’re free. As we prepare to unite together as a nation next week to celebrate the independence of America and the freedom it affords us, it seems appropriate to reflect on Billy Ray’s final appeal to “think of our liberties and recall that all gave some…and some gave all.”
The news outlets and much of the print media would have us believe patriotism is all but dead in America…that we are in fact a nation divided. There can be no doubt that we are living in an era of political discord and a wide variety of viewpoints on national policy and leadership. But true patriotism stems from love of country, reverence for our history, forefathers and institutions and perhaps most importantly, humble gratitude for those who fought…and continue to fight…so we can have liberty and justice for all.
Regardless of the media buzz, all across America next week communities will be collectively raising their flags, donning their red, white and blue attire, dusting off the family baseball gloves and putting the finishing touches on great-grandma’s apple pie recipe. My 25-year-old daughter will head to Main Street Nantucket where she’ll attempt to add to her 15-year blue ribbon collection as she puts her face in a blueberry pie and races to be the first to swallow the last bite. Afterward, she and her dad, will strip down to their patriotic swimwear and grab a section of the water hose that spans all of Main Street to engage in the annual water fight. Like thousands of other Americans, they cling to these annual traditions not just for fun, but because they’re small ways they can symbolically be part of the bigger picture – ways that say, “we’re proud to be Americans and we value the opportunity to celebrate our liberties.”
Nantucket goes “all in” when it comes to representing Lady Liberty. The entire island is awash in red white and blue as we head towards Independence Day. And it isn’t just July 4th that stirs her patriotic spirit. Over Memorial Day weekend a group of veterans sailed into Nantucket harbor on a boat that was participating in the FIGAWI race. Tom McCann, founder of Nantucket Holidays for Heroes, waded into the water waist deep off Brant Point waving a giant American flag to greet them. The message that heartfelt effort conveyed was from an entire island…an entire nation. We do understand the reason we’re free…and we’re grateful.
As you prepare to celebrate our country’s independence this week, whether on Nantucket or some other small town across America, take some time between the baseball games and hot dogs to reflect on just how lucky we are. Consider the limitless freedoms and opportunities our country affords us and most importantly never forget that in order for us to enjoy these liberties…
Some gave all.
Shellie Dunlap
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