Reflections of patriotism

July Fourth more than hot dogs, hamburgers, fireworks

Created date

July 13th, 2009
Those who live at Erickson communities have a special tie to patriotism. They are more likely to vote, volunteer, and lend a hand than generations that followed them. We asked them to reflect on the importance of the upcoming July Fourth holiday and share the ways they celebrate. Make someone happy Even as a young girl, Riderwood s Grace Harr felt an obligation to reach out to American servicemen. I was in high school during World War II, and I used to make baked goods with my mother to send to our troops. I also wrote to just about every guy without a family. I thought that the least I could do was to make someone happy. This strong obligation to reach out to others still motivates Harr in her daily work. She spends three to four hours most days sorting and collecting coupons as part of Riderwood s Coupon Cutters project, one she began working on five years ago when she moved to the Silver Spring, Md., community. The program, run in partnership with the Greenbelt, Md., American Legion Post 136, has collected more than 500,000 coupons to support U.S. military families in Saudi Arabia and three locations in Japan. The result is more than $600,000 in total consumer savings for our countrymen overseas. Harr continues to increase the Coupon Cutters efforts. Our program is going strong, she says. The American Legion keeps telling me, Please don t stop. This year, I ve spoken with many servicemen and women who ve come back from their assignments overseas. They tell me that I have no idea how much they appreciate our efforts. It really feels good to receive their feedback. This July Fourth, undoubtedly after spending a few hours sorting coupons, Harr will visit her son s home in Alexandria, Va. He lives on the eighteenth floor and has two balconies, she says. Family and friends come with food, and we all enjoy the fireworks together. In fact, my son has invited half of Riderwood to come to his place this year, she says. He visits me here a lot and has really gotten to know and like many of my friends. Proud military tradition For Greenspring s Libby Haynes, patriotism runs deep. She joined the Cadet Nurse Corps in 1944, worked for the Veterans Service Center after WWII, and later went to the Officer ' Candidate School of the U.S. Air Force. Joining the Air Force shaped my life, says Haynes, who met her husband, Major William P. Haynes, while working as a flight forecaster at Pepperrell Air Force Base, in St. John s, Newfoundland, Canada. As a life member of the American Legion, Haynes now serves as the Vice Commander of Post 44 in Arlington, Va., and is a member of ' several other veterans organizations including the Air Force Women ' Officers Association, the American Meteorological Society, and the ' Washington Academy of Sciences. The Fourth is an important day to reflect on the sacrifices of the Founding ' Fathers and their wisdom in drafting our Constitution and ' establishing our tolerant and inclusive form of government, Haynes says. This year I will celebrate at a barbecue supper at my ' daughter s home in Fairfax then head to the stadium at Fairfax High ' School for their band concert and fireworks. Operation Welcome Home As a Navy widow, Riderwood s Barbara Stroud understands the importance of recognizing the sacrifices of American military men and women. Last year, she orchestrated a trip from Riderwood to BWI airport to welcome home troops as part of Operation Welcome Home. Because my husband made his career in the military, it was important for me to do something concrete for today s soldiers, says Stroud. This Fourth of July, Stroud plans to visit one of her three children s homes for a family barbecue. We usually celebrate with lots of flags and take the grandchildren to a parade, she says. The Fourth of July is important because it recognizes the founding of our country. We all need to be aware of that and our progress, especially compared to the older countries of the world. Getting out to vote Driven by a sense of duty and obligation, Greenspring s Kathleen Henry encourages her neighbors to vote. Recently, she appeared on Greenspring s Channel 6 and wrote an article for the community newsletter, The Villager, about the recent (June 9) Virginia Democratic Primary election. She places a personal how to letter in every newcomer s mailbox and works with her neighbor Barbara McNeill to host registration drives at every community clubhouse before elections. Although their plans this Fourth of July may differ, a strong spirit of patriotism unites all of these dedicated Americans. They are answering the challenged posed by President John F. Kennedy: Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.