Today, we take time to reflect upon the accomplishments of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., a true patriot who led the civil rights movement in the mid-1950s until his assassination in 1968. He was the epitome of peaceful protests, calling for the equal treatment of all people, regardless of their race.
It was during a time of segregation, unfair hiring practices, and other injustices for black Americans. In August 1963, Dr. King played a major role in the March on Washington, where approximately 200,000 people, black and white, gathered for a peaceful political rally. The event was intended to bring attention to the rights of black Americans.
With intense racial tension throughout the country, Dr. King stood at the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and shared his dream for the future that, “this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.'” (History.com, 2009). It was part of his ‘I have a dream’ speech – one that would become synonymous with Dr. Martin Luther King himself.
The Civil Rights Act was passed in 1964, ending segregation in public places and prohibiting employment discrimination. Eventually the Act paved the way for voting rights for all citizens, regardless of their race, sex, or nationality. Dr. King received the Nobel Peace Prize and was named Time magazine’s, ‘Man of the Year.’
Unfortunately, today there are more heightened levels of racial tensions, accompanied by violent protests and riots. However, we honor Dr. King for his key role and success in ending division and segregation throughout America with peaceful demonstrations, and recognize his passion to unite all Americans. It was his dream for future generations to live in unity with equal opportunities and treatment, and without discrimination and segregation – we have come a long way, but we still need to improve.
We have the best idea since sliced bread… yeah, right! Well, all of us are have likely said this a number of times throughout our lives for sure. Who has pursued their idea? If you’re fortunate, most of you have.
Standard of Patriotism (SOP) founders certainly have, and we would like to share a few of the roads we have been down to inspire and influence our supporters’ success – this will help sustain our country and our citizens. When SOP launched, we certainly had several ideas on what we thought would be influential to our region, however, our testing of these projects fell on the ears of internal members.
For a sanity check, SOP requested a meeting with the City of Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton. Our goal is simple: get the mayor’s approval of this potentially valuable resource and ask him where he thought a tool like SOP could complement his current work and future goals for the city. You see, SOP’s goal is to raise, influence, support, and foster American patriotism within our communities and country – the goal being that if our citizens enhance their pride by participating with community and organizational events, higher education institutions will find meaningful tools in recruiting prospective students based upon community service, respect, honor, and duty to community. State and local employers would benefit by recruiting patriotic Americans who are loyal and vested in their communities with a greater chance at getting longevity, experience, and loyalty from local patriotic citizens.
The meeting with Mayor Boughton was well founded and the wealth of information coming from the chief executive officer of Danbury, CT was refreshing, to say the least. His perspective directed more to the change management and culture of our city.
For example, Mayor Boughton shared that a number of elderly folks living in residential neighborhoods can no longer raise and lower their flags. His suggestion to SOP was to develop a team that can go to local communities and elderly homes to raise and lower our great American flag where Danbury citizens can no longer do this. SOP accepted, and more importantly, found that recruiting volunteers was fast and easy when it comes to patriotism.
Today, local ROTC units, and Army Reserve Center with the 411th civil affairs battalion have graciously accepted to participate and this could also help their recruiting methods. Mayor Boughton also believes that this could be a way to demonstrate American pride in a respectful way to our neighbors and businesses throughout Danbury and the state of Connecticut. SOP is continuing to develop this meaningful patriotic program and looks forward to its growth.
Mayor Boughton (who is a former educator) also suggested that a growing number of citizens in Danbury may be unacquainted with our patriotic history and culture, and therefore are unaware of the pride and patriotism to community. We are all responsible to ensure our children, family, and friends feel a sense of belonging and acceptance to our great country.
Each year, Mayor Mark Boughton has a city cleanup day in spring. During this annual event, approximately 500 kids from local K-12 schools help with keeping their neighborhoods clean. In 2017, SOP will help boost these efforts by establishing a picnic/BBQ to recognize and reward all volunteers who participate with support from our businesses, organizations, and families.
In closing, SOP is at the beginning of our journey and we sense that our idea of enhancing patriotism is better than sliced bread. With pride, respect, and duty to our country, there are many talents that can foster patriotism well into our children’s futures.
Mayor Mark Boughton’s perspective and recommendations to SOP will serve a higher purpose to our next generation patriots and future leaders of this great country… What is your Standard of Patriotism?
Many people have different views on the meaning of patriotism. Some proudly stand at a Memorial Day parade and wave the American flag or watch fireworks on the 4th of July. Others salute an American veteran or donate to an organization that supports housing or healthcare for veterans; some people may have lost a loved one while serving in the military, so they volunteer for any organization that promotes patriotism. It is all of that, and so much more. American patriotism is also community involvement – being engaged in community events and helping each other – helping people when you can.
The following is an excerpt from Patriotism in America, A Historian Says It’s “Alive and Well,” by Cynthia Tintorri, (2015):
Long before current technology edged its way into everyone’s lives, a young man was making his way back home on a very desolate rural dirt road. About halfway through his journey, he realized he had a flat tire. He happened upon an older gentleman, a Marine veteran who took him to his own home, found a tire, drove the young man back to his car, and changed the flat for him.
“I’ll be back to pay you,” the young man told the veteran.
“No, son, I don’t want you to pay me,” the old man said. “I did what I did because I’m patriotic. If you want to pay me, I want you to spend your life being patriotic, too. Help people out when you can. That’s how you can repay me.” (Tintorri, 2015)
So, help people out when you can. That is community involvement. That is patriotism.