Patriotism is often thought of as a dying concept in America, sparked only by times of hardship or acts of violence. The days of unquestionable dedication to our great nation are fading, rapidly being replaced by mere glimmers of a once prominent ideal. The last crucial moment that spurred nationwide patriotism occurred on September 11, 2001, and as America came under attack, it banded together to honor its heroes and support its veterans.
While a down economy and lengthy military engagements in the Middle East have caused some of us to question our commitment to this amazing country, and sometimes even our service members, hope burns eternal. If you stop to look for it, patriotism can still be found in our homes, our work, and most importantly, our children.
As someone that was fortunate enough to attend the 2012 Military Child of the Year award ceremony as a panel judge, I believe that this up-and-coming generation of Americans is being led by some of the brightest and most caring young people the world has to offer.
In prerecorded remarks, actor Gary Sinise offered the same sentiment, saying, “There is no greater sacrifice than to serve our nation and you young people are living examples of that dedication and commitment.” That isn’t just a formality statement, folks, it’s a lifestyle that our military children live and breathe every day.
This year’s winners are not only representative of what military children are capable of; they signify what America can accomplish. Take Amelia McConnell, 17, for example. She’s adapted to nine permanent change-of-stations since her birth, watched her father deploy three times while battling leukemia and endured the death of her brother in Afghanistan. Amelia could have secluded herself from the world, yet she took it upon herself to volunteer in her military communities and accept growing responsibilities around the house, all while being nominated to multiple educational societies.
This is but one of the five amazing young people that were honored during the event, with every story equally as remarkable. These children are very unique, yes, but they aren’t alone. All around the world, children of U.S. military service members act as young ambassadors and leaders in their schools, families and communities. They represent the very best of what America has to offer, and like the spirit of America, never waver in the face of adversity.
It is because of service members and veterans like you that our country is built strong and free, and it will be because of children like Amelia, and your own children, that America will continue to grow and prosper.
Patriotism is once again on the rise, even if it’s harder to see right now. And it only took a few children to lead the way.
Photo thanks to DonkeyHotey under a creative commons license from Flickr.