NOTE: Sussex Beat is a log of news briefs and commentary by Eric Magill, publisher of Sussex County Online, with contributions from Sussex County Online users.
As a New York City police officer belted out God Bless America on a New Year's Eve TV special, my wife and I sat dumbfounded as our daughter carried our American flag into our den, hand over heart, and joined the song with all the patriotic fervor her six-year-old body could muster.
Having grown up during the Vietnam and Watergate eras, when patriotism almost became a dirty word thanks to the bungling and corruption of our nation's leaders, we never felt the kind of patriotism our daughter and other kids have shown in the three months since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
It made us wonder about how different her attitude toward her country will likely be as she grows up, compared to our own childhoods, when a questionable war, racial and sexual discrimination, political corruption, and high unemployment and inflation, had so many questioning if this country could really live up to the ideals expressed in its Constitution.
Now, we no longer question what the United States is about as much as we used to. Like our daughter, we have had our own rebirth of patriotism since 9/11.
Of course, we still disagree with each other in this country. We get mad at each other, we bicker, we argue, we fight, but we do so within the bounds of a political and economic system that allows literally anyone, regardless of their color or sex or religion or political beliefs, to flourish if they're willing to make the necessary sacrifices.
While other countries with far more homogeneous populations often try to destroy any competing interests that crop up, the United States, particularly in the past 30 years, more often blends the interests of amazingly diverse ethnic, gender, religious and political factions toward the goal of the American Dream, moving us ever closer to fulfilling the promise in the words, "All men are created equal ...".
That's something Usama Bin Laden failed to take into account when he thought the United States would disintegrate under the stress of fear. He failed to understand that beneath all of our rhetoric, lies this big jumble of citizens whose courage has always stemmed from our willingness to fight and die for the freedoms we all enjoy and cherish.
This country's ability to unify so many different interests has never been seen before in world history, a history that is replete with the destruction of those who didn't agree with the ruling powers of the day.
In the strength of the response that has followed the 9/11 attacks, in the unity displayed among all of our many disparate parts, I've thought that this must be the place, and the time, that God has chosen to serve as a model for the rest of the world.
We still have much work to do in this country to fulfill our mission, but like our daughter, we no longer doubt what the United States of America stands for.
The Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Organization will hold a couple of events to honor the birthday of the slain civil rights leader.
The organization's 9th annual parade will be held in Lewes on Saturday, Jan. 19, 2002, at 11 a.m. The parade will feature local school bands, fire companies, politicians and university groups.
Later that day, a banquet will be held in the Bay Center in Dewey Beach featuring keynote speaker Dr. Bertrice Berry, a sociologist, author and former talk show host. Dr. Berry will speak about putting differences aside.
The organization will also hold a worship service at 10 a.m. on Martin Luther King Day on Jan. 21, 2002, at St. John Second Baptist Church in Millsboro.
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