Daily Herald Article July 4, 2007
Bunting hangs over front porches. Flags fly outside windows along every block. And everyone today seems to be wearing T-shirts, hats or sparkly accessories to create an overwhelming vision of red, white and blue.
Itís one way we show our patriotism on July 4, the anniversary of the day the founding fathers signed the Declaration of Independence.
Yet the true spirit of patriotism takes different forms for all of us.
For Michael Goodale of Winfield, patriotism means teaching the public about the sacrifices of war.
For Kat Doyle of Glendale Heights, participating in a democracy takes the form of public protests and letters to Congress.
And Sons of the American Revolution Chapter President Don Parrish views patriotism as an intellectual process of understanding how valuable freedom is in your everyday life.
Today, these people and others share their views.
We invite you to share your thoughts on what it means to be patriotic.
Send comments to Assistant City Editor Anne Halston at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 4300 Commerce Court, Lisle, IL 60532.
Please limit essays to a maximum of 100 words. Include your full name and hometown for publication. Also include a phone number for verification.
Don Parrish, Downers Grove
by Catherine Edman
Weaving his way through the countries of the world reaffirms Don Parrish's gratitude for his birthright.
Freedom to ask questions. Freedom of speech. Freedom to explore all the corners of his family's history.
"The most important thing that ever happened to me was to be born in this country," said the Downers Grove man and retired Bell Labs employee.
Traveling to such remote places as Uzbekistan and Belarus in his quest to visit every country before he dies gives Parrish the chance to see differences in levels of freedom.
"The more you see, the more you realize how grateful you should be," he said.
While he's always considered himself someone who loves his country, that love really blossomed about 20 years ago when Parrish was given a brief family tree compiled by an aunt applying for membership in the Daughters of the American Revolution.
He took those names and spent weekend after weekend in Chicago's Newberry Library researching his extended family through the centuries.
The online family tree he's posted on his Web site, www.donparrish.com, now lists 700 ancestors.
Not only is Parrish now a member of the Sons of the American Revolution himself, he's president of the local chapter.
The more Parrish learned about his family, the more he learned about the country's history and the importance of its tradition of freedom.
That hardly means a blind acceptance of everything labeled "American," though.
"This is the strength of America . . . that we do question things," he said.
Elaborating in an e-mail, Parrish wrote, "I view patriotism as an intellectual discovery, not a belief system. I think you discover patriotism when you realize how important this country is to your life -- and the lives of other people, too.
"I could not be who I am today being born in any other country. I would not have been able to develop myself and actualize my life in any other country as I am able to do here because of the freedom and opportunity here. It's that fundamental.
"When you come to this realization," he explained, "it naturally follows that you respect your freedoms, your consititutional rights, and you repect those in the past that got us to this special level and those who are defending our freedom today."