OPINION: Patriotism Begins at Home
The following opinion article represents the views and opinions of the author alone, and not necessarily those of Westwood Minute.
By Patrick McDermott, Norfolk County Sheriff
In my role as the Sheriff of Norfolk County, I have the pleasure of participating in many parades and community celebrations, especially during the summer months. Having just wrapped up several very busy weeks of festivities in honor of Flag Day, Independence Day, Memorial Day, and more, I’ve been thinking a lot about patriotism and what it means to be a patriot for everyday people like ourselves.
Of course, the first thing that comes to mind are the brave men and women who risk their lives for our country and our way of life. Marching with veterans during Medway’s Memorial Day parade was a great honor, and seeing the pride in our armed forces and the celebrations of our country during the Quincy and Dedham Flag Day parades, the Braintree Day parade, and the multiple 4th of July parades and celebrations lately reminded me how great our country is and can be, despite the many challenges we face. Those patriots who fought against tyranny and stood up for the ideals of democracy are worth remembering and honoring, not just with our parades and cookouts, but with our commitment to living lives worthy of their sacrifices.
And that is why I also started thinking about what patriotism looks like at home. To me, a patriot is someone who seizes an opportunity to help make things better or safer for people at home. Our nation is, at its heart, a collection of communities, and when we do good things for our neighbors, or make sacrifices for our communities, we are also being patriots. When I think of local patriots, I think of people like Foxborough middle schooler, Adam Taj, who received the Norfolk County Hero Award recently for his ongoing efforts to help others in need. I think of NCSO Officer Brett LeClerc, who was recently awarded a Meritorious Recognition from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts for his heroic rescue of two children during an automobile accident. And I think of NCSO Lieutenant Francis Reynolds, physician’s assistant Christine Cimoch, and registered nurse April Ko, who all received Lifesaving Awards from the Massachusetts State Police last month in recognition of their quick thinking in the face of danger that saved a motorcyclist who had been involved in a life-threatening accident.
All of these people put others first, often at significant expense or risk to themselves, in order to make sure that another person’s needs were met. In doing so, they’ve made those lives better and their communities stronger. And when our communities our strong, our country is strong, which is why I believe that work and actions like these epitomize the spirit of patriotism.
Patriotism isn’t a medal or an award. None of these people I mentioned did what they did because they wanted a prize – they did it because they had a patriotic spirit, a mindset that guides their beliefs that the common good is a goal worth working towards. It’s the kind of mentality that leads people to help their neighbors, to volunteer at non-profits, to watch each other’s kids. We’re a nation made up of individuals – so, in a sense, patriotism is simply the act of watching out for each other.
This summer, I hope that we can all look for opportunities to be patriots and look out for one another. Check on your elderly neighbors when it gets hot. Take a chance and volunteer at your local food bank so that people who might need some help can have food on their table. Do good by your neighbors and good for your community. And in the process, maybe we’ll all do a little better by a nation that I still believe is worth fighting for.
Thanks to Norfolk County Sheriff Patrick McDermott for contributing his opinion to Westwood Minute.