Terra Rubra Lions Club District 22W 2009 Patriotic Essay Contest

Winner, Lions Club Member Category

As members of Lions International, we can best preserve
our heritage and patriotism by... by Lion Larry Gray, Terra Rubra Lions Club

... maintaining a regular routine of healthy diet and vigorous exercise.

That’s what you hear constantly from health care providers and fitness trainers. Sensible and nourishing meals and a program of focused workouts are the keys to keeping the body sound and fit. But what does personal fitness have to do with preserving our heritage and patriotism? Just this: it’s not the body alone that can benefit from a proper feeding and being taken out for a walk now and then. While we don’t have a “heritage hamstring” or a “patriotism muscle group,” our spirits benefit from their own forms of sustenance and training every bit as much as our bodies do. Our heritage must be fed and our patriotism exercised if they’re to thrive and grow.

Before one can attempt to preserve anything, one must learn as much as one can about it. For our heritage, that means feeding ourselves as much as we can of the history and traditions of those who came before us. There is a common heritage that every person in this country – and indeed in Lions – can share, whether their family came to these shores centuries ago or they themselves arrived only yesterday. Oddly, the common heritage of all stems from the individual heritages of each of us. It lies in our different ancestors from different homelands, and the diverse personal experiences that shaped who we are. The whole is made of many parts. The preservation of our common heritage requires us to educate ourselves not only about our own personal heritage, but also about the history and traditions of others. Just as the body grows and is strengthened on a balanced diet of many foods, so our common heritage will flourish if we learn about its many aspects through reading, watching, listening, and asking.

Patriotism, like a muscle, becomes stronger every time it’s used. Every time you raise the flag, every time you vote, every time you thank a veteran, you’re giving your patriotism a workout. And just as with a physical workout, you find that it’s a bit easier to exercise your patriotism the next time. You sing the national anthem just a bit louder; you say the Pledge of Allegiance with just a bit more thought to the words; you’re just a bit more inclined to let someone with whom you disagree have their say anyway. You also see that those around you are noticing what you do, and are beginning to do it as well. You feel just a bit more like an American and a Lion.

Sticking with a program of diet and exercise isn’t always easy. It takes effort, commitment, and not a small amount of faith that it will succeed. The results, however are a healthier body and a better life. In the same way, building a stronger sense of patriotism and appreciation of our common heritage will result in a healthier nation, with Lions out front as America’s personal trainers.

Return to Patriotic Essay main page.