I was sitting in what they call “The Gallery” of a courtroom yesterday morning. fulfilling my responsibility for Jury Duty for the year. There were about 50 of us in the room watching the judge and attorneys selecting a jury for another American Citizen that had been arrested and this was his day in court.
This was the first time I was able to complete my duty since before I became a Mother 18 years ago. I was excited to participate. Even though the jury was selected prior to my name being called and I was sent home at lunch, my heart was touched that morning from what I saw.
As they were interviewing the potential jurors, I shifted my perspective to who the people were in the room. Our group consistent of men and women who were American citizens both born in this fine country and those who came to our country at different stages of their lives.
I listened as men and women who had learned English as their second language expressed their desire to serve our country on this jury. They wanted to give back to the country that offered them security from their homelands. They were honored to be there.
One woman in particular told of her life before coming to America and the striking difference to what life was like for her now. She was in tears as she was begging to be on the jury to serve her country, only moments before she was excused. (Someone dear to her was the victim of the same crime the individual was being tried for that day, which the defense thought could potentially impact her neutrality for their client.)
With her head hung low as she exited the courtroom, my heart was heavy for her. She didn’t get her chance to serve. Seeing this woman strengthened my desire to share her message, her patriotism, for our country.
I wanted my children to see what our country meant to this woman after I had just heard that only a few students actually stand up for the pledge of allegiance at our local high school. That while my daughter still stands up every day with her hand on her heart, there are dozens of other teens pretending like nothing is happening.
The fact that the teachers don’t prompt these teenagers to honor our country, their country, is appalling to me. Do they know anyone that has served and sacrificed in our armed forces? Do they know any veterans that have dealt with the trauma of war their entire lives to protect our freedom or the freedoms for others? Would they pretend like nothing was happening if a veteran or someone in the military on active duty were in the room?
We are less than a month away from the presidential election. Observing behavior on social media networks has me feeling like our country is not just divided…we are irrevocably divided. That is, until we are attacked again like 9/11 or go to war.
Do we have to go to war to be patriots in our own country? I don’t think so. I think we should all by like the woman I saw in that courtroom, doing our part in our neighborhoods and cities to serve our fellow Americans.
This is why I’m starting this Passion Project of mine on Patriotism. I know there are millions of Americans that do care. There are millions of us not taking an active role to make our country as great as it could be. We are relying on others to do that for us. As if a President can singlehandedly make our country great, or the Congress or any other arm of the government.
If we think lawmakers will make America great without all of us actively engaging in this cause, everyone is wrong.
Each of us can impact America positively. We can do service for our fellow Americans. We can build up our communities and help each other live out our dreams. We all have this power within us…yet it lies there dormant. We are not going to lose the great America I live in to laziness and complacency, not as long as I’m alive.
It is time for us all to commit to doing things that make our country great. To treat each other with respect and kindness. To look for ways to love your neighbor, to cultivate others instead of finding differences that aim to hurt and destroy.
Ask JFK once said, “The rising tide lifts all of the boats.”
And it does. If we rise, others around us rise. Imagine the power that gives our great nation when 319+ million (or even half of that) focus on what is good, and then make it better.
Are you with me?
(If you’d like to learn how to make the calligraphy drawing in this post, visit Whitney Todd’s Skillshare class. She’s to credit for the image.)