I was at Girl Scout camp this past week and I watched the daily closing of the camp and the retiring of Old Glory. The girls were so respectful as they retired the colors. I began to think about patriotism and what it means to me. Patriotism consists not in the waving of the flag, but in striving - that our Country shall be righteous, as well as strong. I think patriotism is like charity. It begins at home. Our country will not be good for any of us to live in, unless we make it a good place for all of us to live. Every morning when I go to work, I see many flags of the United States blowing in the breeze. I often find myself gazing at the flag. I do not apologize for my support of our military, our country, and my devotion to God. You see, our country is not the only thing to which we owe our allegiance. It is also owed to justice and to humanity.
When we honor the flag, we are also honoring those who have served and died under it. Although many lives were sacrificed, our flag has always prevailed over the land of the free and the home of the brave.
Our flag has gone into every battle where there have been United States citizens - from the American Revolution to the wars of today - and through it all, we the American people have stayed true to the value that the flag represents.
The true American is motivated by a sense of responsibility. As I look around me, and when I look at what Girl Scouts of Southern Illinois is doing for our girls, I get so excited because I see Leaders — successful and caring leaders - working hard in their communities, their cities, and your nation, to help make this world a better place. Our youth will be our care takers and they will lead us into the future. So it is important for us to build our youth for the future.
Our Girl Scout Promise says that on my honor I will try to serve God and my country. So, I ask this question to you. What kind of youth are we to lead? Will they be reliable? Are they brave? And, most importantly, are they capable of victory?
We should teach duty, honor and country. These three words will dictate what they ought to be, what they can be, and what they will be. These words will build courage when courage seems to fail, they will regain faith when there seems to be little cause for faith, and they will create hope when hope seem to be lost.
So now our youth are facing a new world. A changing world, and we must work to help them succeed.
The National Motto was originated and was passed on April 22, 1864 “In God We Trust.” In 1963, the Department of State took the position, “In God We Trust” as the motto of the United States.
The United States Flag is more than just some brightly colored cloth; it is a symbol of our nation.
The red stripes remind us of the lifeblood of brave men and women who were ready to die for their country.
The white stripes remind us of the purity and cleanliness of purpose, thought, word and deed.
The blue is for truth and justice, like the eternal blue of the star filled heavens.
And the stars represent the states of our nations.
I want to bring attention to the color blue of the flag as it represents truth and justice, because today we fight a different kind of battle that is also a danger to our country and our youth. In this war the enemy is present but hidden. The war against inequality, exclusion, bullying, and the increasing opposition to the need for every American voice to be heard. We must re-write the battle plans in order to create new ways to combat these problems.
Forming new strategies when approaching societal concerns will give us the ability to build up our youth sooner rather than later, because quick response matters in this fast-paced society. We must respond now in order to rise above future conflicts. Our courage will form the foundation for the courage of future generations. Our determination to win - which lies at the very root of this country, and is inspired by the confidence displayed by our men and women in uniform - will raise us up to overcome our fears.
God bless these United States of America.
Happy Fourth of July to all of you. May this holiday fill you with independence and gratitude for those who have fought to win it.
Loretta Graham is CEO of Girl Scouts of Southern Illinois. She wrote this editorial after being inspired by some of the Girl Scouts at a recent day camp.