By: Carol Kennedy, Department Sr. Vice Commander

During the recent DEC and Midyear Conference, I announced that I would seek the office of Department Commander 2013-2014. It will be an honor to serve the veterans of Colorado as their Commander and if elected my motto and projects will be to ask every Legionnaire to “Ignite Patriotism.” Inflame or fire up every person in Colorado with Patriotism.

Patriotism is defined as a devotion to one’s homeland or country. As veterans we have already professed and demonstrated our “Patriotism”. Now it is time to “Ignite Patriotism”. How many times have you watched a patriotic holiday parade and seen more than half of the observers sitting as “Old Glory” goes by? They don’t stand, don’t remove their hats and don’t place their hands over their hearts. The few showing their respects are the veterans. Yes, veterans manage to get up from their wheel chairs and salute the Flag they offered to die for. What has happened to everyone else?

Who is teaching our children respect for this beautiful flag that all veterans have offered to die for?? How is The Constitution of the United States and The Declaration of Independence taught in schools?

Many people don’t even know what a veteran is. We must teach them – WHAT IS A VETERAN!

“They answered their country’s call to defend freedom, not just for us but many countries around the world.

In Germany— to prevent the killing of ethnic groups

In Japan and Southern Pacific Islands- to prevent torture and death.

In Korea – to prevent torture, death and destruction of their neighbors.

In Vietnam- to stop killing for where they lived or what they believed.

In Iraq and Afghanistan — to stop the rape and killing of women because they believe women are nothing but property, killing of a family because the father refused to be a suicide bomber and to prevent the killing of thousands of people because of how they wish to worship their God.

We Must teach them – WHO IS A VETERAN!

Some veterans show visible signs by a missing arm or leg, a jagged scar or a certain look in their eyes. Others carry their scars inside with badly healed bones, metal shrapnel or pain deep in their hearts and minds, NEVER forgetting the pain and agony of death and destruction they have seen.

You can’t just tell a veteran by looking. They are the loudmouth s in a local bar or restaurant, yet they were the ones that fought four long hours showing exquisite bravery at the 38th parallel in Korea.

They are the police in your community that gave out a warning for speeding, yet spent six months in Saudi Arabia or Afghanistan sweating two gallons a day making sure the armored personnel carrier didn’t run out of fuel.

They were the nurses who fought against death and disease for two solid years going to sleep many nights sobbing in Da Nang, Vietnam. They were the infantryman who walked over Europe carrying a rifle in snow helping to bring freedom from a terrible invasion and destruction of innocent people.

They were Prisoners of War who went away one person and came home a totally different person—or never come home at all.

They are the men and women in a parade who have their medals pinned on by a loved one because they have only one hand. They are the old man in your grocery store, now pale, shaky and slow, who helped free Nazi death camp prisoners and who wishes every day that his wife was still alive to hold him when those awful nightmares come.

They are the unknown heroes in The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, whose presence at Arlington National Cemetery must forever preserve the memory of those heroes that died without valor and will forever be unknown except to their Supreme Commander, or those buried at sea where the sun never shines on their deep graves.

They are soldiers and sailors, marines and airmen that served and still serve on behalf of the finest and greatest nation ever known.”

They are someone, that at one point in their life, wrote a blank check to the United States of America, for an amount up to and including their life. . . now THAT IS PATRIOTISM.

Our goal for this year to go out to schools, businesses and organizations and “Ignite Patriotism”. It used to be there, we MUST get it going once again.

We MUST teach them – Flag Code, Flag etiquette, Refresh their understanding of the Constitution of the United States and The Declaration of Independence,.

We must teach them what each of folds of the flag stand for as we fold the beautiful stripes inside, showing only those shinning stars. Why we drape the caskets or urns of our soldiers with the most respected flag in the world. Teach what it means to provide rifle volleys, TAPS, the presentation of the flag to the family of that faithful veteran. Why the flag is flown at half staff, what the four places are in this country where flag is always flown at half staff.

Teach them about Fort McHenry and what our veterans did there for this country and their dedication to our Flag. DO YOU KNOW ?? Why NOT??

Our country has forgotten, or at least ignored those things we hold most dear and fought to save. So “Ignite Patriotism” before it is too late.

We MUST Teach them! why we are the greatest country in the WORLD and let’s keep it that way!!!!