by Pennie Pendleton
With the recent election and Veteren’s Day just behind us, many thoughts have turned to the nation. While there is still encouragement to “do our part for the country” in any way we can, it is certainly much less than with past generations. The Greatest Generation, for example, comes to mind, as we consider how much they sacrificed for the country. But nowadays there just doesn’t seem to be a lot of ways to show patriotism. So what can we do?
Maybe we don’t agree with our president. Maybe we hate the principles he imposes. Mark Twain once said, “Loyalty to the country always. Loyalty to the government when it deserves it.” When we say the pledge of allegiance, we are pledging allegiance to the flag, “and to the Republic for which it stands.” We are loyal to a standard - the American standard. We are loyal to what it means. In Physics, the principle of entropy states that every system will at one time or another descend from order to disorder. The same can be said for countries. Nothing lasts forever. So what if America were to fall into chaos and dictatorship tomorrow? Would we still give our lives for what has suddenly become the wrong cause? Of course not. We would renounce this new nation and put up the American flag somewhere else.
Let’s return to our earlier anecdote: the Greatest Generation. These were the people that grew up during the Great Depression and lived, fought, and died during the second World War. When we picture them, a simpler time comes to mind; biking to school, Saturday morning cartoons, skipping ropes, and fishing. They kept a stiff upper lip through impossibly difficult times, so why shouldn’t we?
In 2017, BYUtv produced the film Instrument of War, about an American POW who makes a violin out of spare wood he finds. Near the end of the movie, on Christmas Eve, he plays for the soldiers in the camp. And after years of freezing weather and near starvation and every possible effort to break their spirits employed against them, these soldiers find it in them to sing along to Jingle Bells, and to keep up hope.
Maybe the best way to do our part for the country these days is to keep up good morale and be kind. David McCullough once said, “There are no people on earth in whom a spirit of enthusiastic zeal is so readily enkindled, and burns so remarkably, as Americans.” Let’s not prove him wrong. Let’s be those Americans with the nose at the old grindstone, always pulling at the leash to be better, to do the Right Thing or die trying. Let’s be the next Greatest Generation.