Women Whose Stripes are Red and White and Blue

America celebrated the Fourth of July yesterday. Patriotism reigns. Often that patriotism is expressed by quoting great Americans—usually white males. There are voices that have been suppressed for many years. These quotes are from women whose stripes are red and white and blue.

On Freedom

Image of the Statue of Liberty against a pale blue and yellow dawn sky with a quote from one of the Women whose stripes are red white and blue: Coretta Scott King' said, "Freedom is never really won. You earn it and win it in every generation."

Freedom is never really won. You earn it and win it in every generation.

Coretta Scott King, My Life with Martin Luther King Jr.

I’d like to be remembered as a person who wanted to be free and wanted other people to be also free.

Rosa Parks

On Patriot(ism)

A patriot is not someone who condones the conduct of our country whatever it does. It is someone who fights every day for the ideals of the country, whatever it takes.

Kamala Harris, The Truths We Hold: An American Journey,

True patriotism springs from a belief in the dignity of the individual, freedom and equality not only for Americans but for all people on earth, universal brotherhood and good will, and a constant striving toward the principles and ideals on which this country was founded.

Eleanor Roosevelt, Eleanor Roosevelt’s Book of Common Sense Etiquette.

On America

The essence of America, that which really unites us, is not ethnicity, or nationality or religion. It is an idea, and what an idea it is—that you can come from humble circumstances and do great things.

Condoleezza Rice

The fact is, with every friendship you make and every bond of trust you establish, you are shaping the image of America projected to the rest of the world.

Michelle Obama

Our nation has not always lived up to its ideals — yet those ideals have never ceased to guide us. They expose our flaws, and lead us to mend them. We are the beneficiaries of the work of the generations before us, and it is each generation’s responsibility to continue that work.

Laura Bush

In America nobody says you have to keep the circumstances somebody else gives you.

Amy Tan, The Opposite of Fate.

We believe that the American dream is big enough for everyone, for people of all races and religions, for men and women, for immigrants, for LGBT people and for people with disabilities. For everyone.

Hillary Clinton

Celebrating America

Image of soldier, an African American woman whose stripes are red and white and blue.

I stand proud and brave and tall. I want justice for us all. So color me America, red white and blue.

Dolly Parton, “Color Me America”

Whether you love or hate fireworks, apple pie, or other American things remember America isn’t perfect. Our imperfections and injustices are many. But always remember to celebrate the dream of America. Remember the men and women who soldier on for our ideals, for freedom and justice for all. Listen to the men who gave voice to those ideals. And always listen for the voices of women whose stripes are red white and blue.

Random Acts of Love May Save Your Country

Photo of a pair of hands whose curled fingers meet and thumbs touch below to create a heart shaped space in the middle through which we see a shining sun.

In the United States of America, the news (print and electronic) says our country is in trouble. We’ve become so terribly, angrily divided by politics. Memes and click-bait stories scream inflammatory headlines. The computer and mobile phone cushion us from consequences. We say things out of anger and frustration or fear without thinking about the legacy those words leave behind. Random acts of love may be our only hope.

Those inflammatory headlines and the anger, frustration, and fear I’ve witnessed in the past few years inspired me to make this month’s theme Random Acts of Love. Read the first post, Random Acts of Love and then the second one, Inspirational Random Acts of Love.

I don’t know what your political persuasion is. And frankly, I don’t care. I care about you and about this country as both exist outside of politics. So when I read Dr. Karlyn Borysenko’s post on Medium, After Attending a Trump Rally, I Realized Democrats Aren’t Ready for 2020 , I knew I had to include it today. The lesson she learned is one I’ve been trying to practice and promote. Most people are good-hearted folk. They might disagree about politics or gender or religion but disagreeing with your position on those topics does not make them evil. Read the following selection of random acts and tell me what political beliefs these people have. Tell me what genders they support or what religion they follow.

So Simple A Child Can Do It

image of a row of shopping carts symbolic of the random act of love by this child

I was at Aldi (a supermarket in river head) and to get a shopping cart you have to put a quarter to reliece the cart. so when we were done shopping we loded the car and my dad told me to go put the cart back. and there was an old lady wit a cane going shopping. She needed a cart. so as she was about to put the quarter in I said ”here take my cart.” I gave it to her and she gave me a warm hug. I sprinted back to the car and buckeld up. —Kindness Stories.  

He Needed the Exercise

Leaving a store, I returned to my car only to find that I’d locked my keys and cell phone inside. A teenager riding his bike saw me kick a tire and say a few choice words.

“What’s wrong?” he asked.

I explained my situation. “But even if I could call my wife,” I said, “she can’t bring me her car key, since this is our only car.”

He handed me his cell phone. “Call your wife and tell her I’m coming to get her key.”

“That’s seven miles round trip.”

“Don’t worry about it.”

An hour later, he returned with the key. I offered him some money, but he refused.

“Let’s just say I needed the exercise,” he said.

Then, like a cowboy in the movies, he rode off into the sunset.—Clarence W. Stephens, Nicholasville, Kentucky

Remembered with a Rose

a rose being handed to someone is another random act of love and kindness in this story

Seth Stewart of Spokane, Washington has spent the last eight years remembering the local widows, single women, and military spouses on Valentine’s Day. He and his brothers deliver a single rose to every one of those spouses on Valentine’s Day. He keeps a record of all the people’s names he has delivered roses to and each year asks his community on Facebook to help him identify additional people who need a remembrance on the holiday.

Hope, Love, and Kindness

From the child who gave his grocery cart away, to the barbers who give homeless men haircuts, to a dry cleaners offering to clean the clothes of any unemployed person going to a job interview, to women crocheting plastic bags into sleeping mats for the homeless, good-hearted people fill every corner of the world. They do random acts of kindness without regard to political, racial, or religious leanings. These random acts of love give one hope for our country and the world.

I hope my posts about random acts of love have inspired you. We express kindness and love for one another in the words we choose, the interactions we have, and the actions we take. It’s only through kindness and love for another that we can bridge generational gaps, gender gaps, and even political gaps. What random act of love and kindness touched your life?

Always Remember 9/11

Today is the eighteenth anniversary of the terrorist attacks of September 11th 2001. Always remember 9/11.

Terrorists flew planes into the World Trade Center’s twin towers in New York City and into the Pentagon. A third plane crashed in Pennsylvania. Its passengers, aware of what had happened, fought back and sacrificed their lives. 

Image of one of the memorial fountains at the former site of the World Trade Center--Always Remember 9/11

Photo of one of the memorial fountains at the former site of the World Trade Center by Saschaporsche [CC BY-SA 3.0]

First responders selflessly struggled against impossible odds to help survivors and evacuate those in danger. Many first responders lost their lives, too. 

Thousands died that day. It was a day that changed America. Our sense of safety shattered. Our isolation from what happened overseas vanished.

Time is Relentless

Families were forever changed on that day. Witnesses near the Towers were also changed. Some have physical reminders—old injuries or chronic injuries from debris and dust. 

Time has claimed some of those who watched the Towers crumple.

For some eighteen years was a lifetime ago. They never saw that day. And unless the tragedies touched their families, they do not know or feel the solemness of the day. 

Memory Fades

The nation’s collective memory is fading. 

Thousands died. It didn’t matter what color their skin, what religion they did or didn’t follow, or what their sexual preference was. They died because they were Americans and America symbolized something evil to terrorists who’d sworn to kill and destroy what they could. 

That day, that week, that month random acts of love (RAOL) happened all over the nation. People offered hugs, water, even shirts off their own backs to strangers. They believed we would always remember 9/11.

What fickle creatures we human beings are. Eighteen years ago, America came together to comfort the grieving and to rally under a symbol, the flag of the United States of America. United being the operative word. We didn’t care what color of skin the victims had. Nor did we care about what sexual preferences or religions they practiced. They were Americans killed in an act of rage and terror. We grieved for them, hurt for them, drew together because of them. 

Unfortunately, we allowed that sense of unity to fade with our memories.

No Easy Answer

Our forefathers had a dream of freedom from tyranny. They succeeded. But they did not, could not, foresee all the changes and growth of the next couple of centuries. 

The United States of America is a nation of many colors, shapes, sizes, religions, and sexual preferences. There will be differences of opinions amongst us. There will be haters and lovers and everything in between. That is inevitable. It falls to the lovers to be bigger than the haters. To shun the hatred but not return it. The lovers must identify the haters but not lower themselves to the haters level with name calling. Remember, tough love means to not tolerate bad behavior but to unconditionally love the person. (This can be a challenge when behavior is extreme or evil.) Finally, the lovers must open their eyes to see what the haters see and work to heal those wounds.

None of those things are easy. All of those things take an enormous amount of strength and a lot of time. And that’s okay.

Image of the USA flag flying against a cloud studded blue sky--Always remember 9/11

While many of us fear for the security and integrity and future of the USA, it’s not defeated. Not if we always remember 9/11 and use love to heal the wounds and scars of our nation. Honor the memory of those we lost with random acts of love (RAOL) today.