Thursday, July 26, 2012

I am proud to be an American.

When I think of the 4th of July, it always brings to mind family picnics, fireworks, and parades.  I have fond memories of parades...bagpipes, bands, firetrucks, and of course, candy.  As I have entered adulthood, my favorite part of a parade has changed.  No longer is my goal to collect as much candy as possible (my kids do that for me).  I love when our US war veterans pass through the crowded streets.  They proudly, yet humbly, wave to those of us who take a moment to stand and applaud them for the sacrifice they made for our country. 

A couple of years ago, my family and I happened to set our chairs next to an older Korean couple at a 4th of July parade.  As the US Korean War veterans passed us, this couple exclaimed, "Oh, Korea!  Korea!  Thank you!  Thank you!"  They nodded and waved to the servicemen who winked back at them.  There was a mutual respect between them.  I still get choked up as I replay that scene in my mind.  I am proud to be an American.

Last July, I finished reading a book by Laura Hillenbrand entitled UNBROKEN.  The author spent years researching the life of Louis Zampirini, an US Olympic athlete, US Airman, and WWII POW in Japan.  I developed so much respect for Louie as I read his story.  When I thought his situation could not possibly get any worse, it did.  This happened more than once while I was reading about his life.  This book is my favorite book of all-time.  Now that I am a parent, I feel it is my duty to teach our girls about our freedom, how it was acquired, and how it is maintained.  I have even told bits and pieces of Louie's story to my young daughters (using age-appropriate vocabulary and censoring as needed, of course).  We thank veterans when we see them in public, and we make frequent donations to the USO and the Vietnam Veterans of America.  I have a great deal of respect for these men and women. 

As I thought about our veterans and the respect I have for them, I was inspired to write this post.  As a Girl Scout leader, it is my responsibility to serve as a role model for these young girls--to show them what it looks like to respect others.  "Respect Myself and Others" and "Respect Authority" are components of the Girl Scout Law.  Our troop earned the magenta petal for respecting authority by touring our local police station and the firehouse.

During the tour of the Police Department, the girls were shown the 911 Call Center.  The officer reviewed when to call 911 and what information the girls need to tell the operator if they ever make a call.  The girls were allowed to sit in the back of the police car while the sirens were blaring.  That was pretty cool but not nearly as exciting as trying on the handcuffs!

Our local firehouse is unique as it is housed in the base of a water tower.  We toured the living quarters of the fire station and explored the inside of a firetruck and an ambulance.  One of the firemen dressed in his fireproof suit--gloves, helmet and all.  He wanted the girls to be familiar with the suit in the hopes that they would not be as scared if they ever had to be rescued from a fire.

The troop enjoyed both of these tours.  The officers and firemen definitely made it fun!  When we left, the girls had a better understanding about respecting authority.  This is a valuable lesson for all young people.  When the respect others, they will have positive interactions with others at home, at school, and in public.  Thanks for reading!

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