Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Columns

July 3, 2014

Keith Kappes: Celebrating America: 07/04/14

ASHLAND — Today is the birthday of the United States of America. As an American, I’m incredibly proud of that fact.

I am celebrating the occasion by displaying our flag, having a cookout with family, boating at Cave Run Lake and going to a fireworks show.

Last Sunday in church, as usual, I had trouble singing all of the words of “America the Beautiful” and “Battle Hymn of the Republic.”

My emotions always come to the surface when I hear patriotic songs or see the flag in a parade or at a cemetery.

I’m not ashamed of how I feel about my country and the respect and admiration I have for those who have served and those who are serving now.

The toughest duty I had in 22 years of Army service, most of it in the National Guard, was to present the folded flag at graveside to surviving family members of soldiers killed in action.

Years later, I still get choked up thinking about how to express my gratitude for such a loss and how many times that has happened to keep us a free nation.

I waited years before joining the American Legion because I wasn’t sure that displaying my patriotism so boldly would be appreciated by certain friends and professional associates.

None of that matters today because I’m proud to be a veteran and to show my support for others who have been in uniform.

But you don’t have to be a soldier or a veteran to be an American patriot.

Millions of us do it every day by working to support our families, by paying our taxes and by teaching our kids to respect themselves, the flag and other persons.

Our country is not perfect but it’s been the fairest and freest in the world for 238 years.

KEITH KAPPES is publisher of The Morehead News, Grayson Journal Enquirer and Olive Hill Times. Reach him at kkappes@cnhi.com

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