By Terrilynne Walker
He loves his country best who strives to make it best.
~Robert G. Ingersoll
~Robert G. Ingersoll
Rain, wind, cold sleet on my face... I will never forget standing there, chilled to the bone in my slicker and boots, handing out fliers to weary voters entering the red school doors that I passed through on a daily basis. Today these doors represented change and American principles.
Next to me, also being beaten by the weather, was my mother. Looking up at her, I saw her friendly smile as she was meeting, greeting and conversing with our neighbors and residents of the local community. As the rain ran down her face, dripping from her eyelashes, she never stopped working, promoting and talking political issues that her favored candidates represented. I didn't understand any of the conversations; I just knew they were important, and that the whole process was patriotic.
Surrounding us were the local politicians extending handshakes to the hopeful people who wanted better for the community. Among them stood the principal of my school, who was running for an office of some distinction to improve educational policies. I also saw the neighborhood attorney, the local storeowner, the insurance man who visited our house to sell his policies to my dad; even our local doctor was there. There were also friends of my father, husbands of my mother's friends, men with hopes to better their lives, and the rest of us living in a neighborhood that was falling apart and facing ruin from economic changes. I was young, the only child there, but I loved being part of making change and doing something that would make a difference.
Now an adult, as I handed out fliers this past presidential election, I reflected on why I was standing in the rain in my slicker and boots once again. The image of my mother — a daughter of immigrants, a child abandoned by her mother and later orphaned by her father, a victim of the depression, a mother so loyal to America that she made her children stand and salute when the President addressed the nation on TV, and a citizen who totally appreciated living in America — came to mind. The image of my mother, a stay-at-home mom trying to keep America strong in the only way she knew how, trying to protect her children, her home, and her community, flashed by. Why, I was just like her! She instilled patriotism in me at a young age, by setting an example, by showing love for her country and by working for what she thought was right.
Thank you, Mom, for giving me this passion, this drive, this enthusiasm, this willingness to do whatever I can to maintain the values that my country represents. Thank you for passing on to me the appreciation of being born in America, and the determination to do whatever I can to help preserve freedom for my children and my grandchildren. Thank you for making me a patriot, too.