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This week I have invited Sr. John Paul, O.P., principal of St. Michael School in Worthington, Ohio, to write a reflection on the virtue of patriotism. Sister has done an amazing job integrating Disciple of Christ, Education in Virtue into the school culture.

Freedom comes from God, and those who serve Him, defend it.

In the liturgy, we pray to Christ, announcing, “by your cross and resurrection, you have set us free.” Christ shows us the example of sacrifice and how to lay down one’s life as a gift.

Our veterans and active members of the military live this example, often with hidden and heroic sacrifices. Our first responders daily put into action a love of neighbor in their service to keep citizens safe and free. 

We know that freedom is only kept with a sacrifice that puts others before ourselves.

The United States of America was founded on sacrifice and the principle of self-government. Self-government is not just a democracy by the people and for the people, but governance of self. Our country was founded and based on the hope that people would govern themselves with virtue.   

True freedom is the self-mastery gained by becoming virtuous and free from slavery to selfishness and vice. Nations rise and fall according to the virtue of their people.  

We honor veterans and those who have served by renewing our efforts to educate ourselves in virtue and practice it as faithful Americans. But, most significantly, our country needs a resurgence of the virtue of patriotism taught in our schools and lived in our streets. We honor freedom and those who died for our freedom by accepting the responsibility of freedom. We do this by living our freedom with excellence daily. 

As St. Pope John Paul II put it, “Freedom has continually to be won; it cannot merely be possessed. It comes as a gift but can only be kept with a struggle.”   

We keep the struggle for freedom going in America by serving God and country with patriotism, paying due honor and respect to our country, with a willingness to serve. 

 Patriotism can be put into action by: 

  • Praying for our active military and veterans and their families, especially our Gold Star families 
  • Proudly and properly displaying an American flag at our home or school
  • Standing for and singing the national anthem 
  • Making Christmas cards or Valentines for veterans and delivering them to your local veteran’s hospital 
  • Volunteering with local organizations to place American flags on the graves of deceased service members 
  • Honoring veterans by attending Veterans Day and Memorial Day ceremonies 
  • Reach out to family members and neighbors who have served or are serving with a card or expression of gratitude 

Let us practice the virtue of patriotism by daily putting our appreciation for veterans into action, by defending true freedom with our contribution of virtue and patriotism. United, under God, we stand.    

May God bless America.