For those of you who do not know, I have been working up in northern Utah (beaver dam, in between tremonton and logan) at a Cub Scout Day Camp. It has been an adventure for many reasons, but no regrets, I have been able to work with some people that I have really come to love. I just want to share with you a few experiences from my last full week of work. Well, let me begin the story a month before...
...Over Memorial Day our Bishop had us watch some cheesy movie about our country or something like that. The song, "Proud to be an American" was playing and I HATE that song. But as much as I hate that song, I started to think about my Grandpa and how he requested that song to be sung at his funeral/memorial service. That dumb song on it's own wouldn't bring tears to my eyes but the memories of my Grandpa did. I thought about how much I really wasn't proud at all to be an American and didn't really feel any sense of patriotism or gratitude. I haven't really felt much like an "American" since 2007 when I arrived home from Argentina. I kind of began to feel a little guilty for having no sense of pride or loyalty for my country. A few times after Memorial Day I prayed that I might understand why my Grandpa liked that song and why he chose it.
...Fast forward to scout camp. Though I am usually working just in the trading post, last week I was asked to teach the citizenship class for the weblos in camp for a few days. With each lesson, more and more I felt like I was understanding the beautiful symbolism of our flag. Among other things, I would teach the boys what the pledge of allegiance meant and really came to understand those words myself. My salutes at flag felt different when I started realizing I was showing reverence toward liberty, justice and my country rather than just reverencing a piece of colorful fabric. I started thinking about my forefathers who believed so deeply that people ought to have basic freedoms and rights and protection that they were willing to sacrifice everything (even their lives) to defend it all. At the end of that week, on Friday night, at our campfire, we had a flag retirement. It was actually the third flag retirement I had seen, but this time was different. First off, there was an incredible sense of reverence among the scouts and staff who were there. I kept thinking about the comments of a war veteran from earlier that week who had picked up the folded flag I was using in my class, he hugged it and talked about how a flag is a living thing, a living symbol and that is why it is burned when it is no longer in conditions to be flown. After the flag was lowered into the fire, as a staff we sang patriotic songs as the scouts passed by the fire to pay their last respects to the flag. When everyone else had left, our staff circled around the fire and it was just completely quiet. The spirit was so strong. I couldn't speak, though a few staff members started to share their feelings about what we had just witnessed. I wish I could share all of their insights with you! It was emotional. I just kept staring into the fire thinking about why I was having such strong feelings and then it hit me that Heavenly Father was blessing me with what I had asked for. I knew I needed to have a love for my country and I was feeling it! I feel like my Grandpa choosing that song for his funeral was a message to me...and truthfully I think it's the legacy he wanted to leave for his grandchildren who have not had to sacrifice the way he did. When I think of him now, I think of patriotism and I am grateful for the way that he is an example to me.
Happy 4th of July everyone!