Armed Forces Day passed quietly this weekend, at least if you follow the national media. But don’t believe it. All across the country Americans paused to honor our brave men and women in uniform, and for them, the day wasn’t so subdued. In such places as Lawton, Oklahoma; and Nampa, Idaho; and Clearfield County, Pennsylvania; and in countless other towns where real Americans live, people lined the streets to see the parades and hear the speeches, cheering each time a military unit marched by. Veterans (and non-veterans) stood up when the flag passed by, children giggled at the clowns and picked up candy being tossed to the crowd, and high school bands played patriotic songs. For all of them Armed Forces Day was an opportunity to remember and honor those who fight for us in far away lands.
I was at a hardware store on Saturday and saw a man wearing a Korean War ball cap. I shook his hand, asked him about the war, and thanked him for his service in the Army. Then he pointed to a middle-aged man further down the aisle and proudly said, “That’s my son. He’s a Navy veteran.”
And it occurred to me that despite the negativity that permeates the airwaves, there sits within each of us a quiet pride in being a citizen of this country, and having the honor to serve her. We Americans share an inherent optimism that has been passed down from generation to generation, and on days such as these – days like Armed Forces Day – it emerges again to be relished like a cool, clear drink of water. And when it does emerge, it manifests itself in an unspoken roar declaring, “Yes, I’m proud to be an American!”
Armed Forces Day – a day to honor the men and women in uniform, and to appreciate the fact that we have been blessed to live in the finest country the world has ever known.