When did you feel proud to be an American?

August 10, 2005|by BOB MAGINNIS

On July 27, I asked readers to tell me, in 100 words or less, about a time when they felt proud to be an American.

As an incentive, I promised readers that the seven best letters would receive U.S. flags flown at the Antietam National Battlefield during the "Healing Fields" event which honored those who died on Sept. 11, 2001.

After the display, the flags were sold to assist th Parent-Child Center, a United Way agency that works to prevent child abuse. I now have eight flags, so here are the entries. I'll reveal the eight winners at the end of this column.

As a 20-year Navy veteran who served throughout the Vietnam era, it was always disheartening to see how we were treated by a lot of people.


There were times in the early 1970s that I could not wear my uniform in public without being ridiculed and called various names, and this was in Norfolk, Va., a Navy town.

In the early 1990s, after the Gulf War, I was in Arlington, Va., near the Iwo Jima memorials to watch the July 4 fireworks display from the National Mall.

There were many people there, including Army soldiers in uniform who were walking around the area. My proudest moment was seeing many people, including children, go up to these soldiers and shake their hands and thank them for their service.

It was wonderful to see these soldiers get the respect they so richly deserved. I have always been proud to be an American and will continue to be.

Gary Tucker

Shepherdstown, W.Va.

It was around 11 a.m. on Aug 14, 1945, in Chambersburg, Pa. My brother was leaving on a train to Harrisburg. Pa. He was going to the U.S. Navy induction center to be sworn in.

We said our parting words, and I said, "I'll be joining you in two years." Later I got on a Greyhound bus to go to Windber, Pa. In those days, bus routes went through all the small towns.

During the trip, we heard rumors that the Japanese had surrendered. People were celebrating in each town - McConnellsburg, Everett and Bedford - and when we arrived in Windber around 7 p.m., the rumors were true and the whole town was out, waving flags, dancing and greeted the bus like returning heroes.

I really felt very proud to be an American and also proud my brother joined that day, and I did join him two years later.

R. L. Buckwalter

Greenberry Hills

There have been many times in my life that I've been proud to be an American. The first was when I graduated from boot camp in 1966 and first put on my Airman 3 class stripes.

The second was when I was medevaced back to the states from Vietnam in December of 1969. I was carried from the plane to an Air Force base in Alaska by stretcher to a holding area.

Waiting for us as we were being led into the holding area was a class of elementary kids from the local school, who were there to greet us and give us support.

That was the only time I was overwhelmed with emotion 'til 1982, when my pride was brought to the surface again at the dedication ceremony for the Vietnam Memorial.

The most affected I've been, however, was the way America rallied around as a family - Democrat, Republican, African-American, Asian, White, Christian, Muslim, Jewish, etc - and supported each other after the Sept. 11, 2001, attack. God bless America.

David Swain


On Sunday, July 24, the local band SPECTRUM, of which my husband, Steve, is the leader, performed at Pen Mar Park. Pen Mar Park is a beautiful park located in the Cascade area of Washington County. This particular Sunday was absolutely gorgeous. There was a breeze blowing and the view from the overlook was breathtaking, to say the least.

The band played from 2 to 5 p.m. As the afternoon of music came to a close, the final selection was "God Bless the U.S.A." by Lee Greenwood.

As the first notes of the song were played, young and old, friends and complete strangers held hands, formed huge circles and swayed back and forth as the singer of the band, Rob Hovermale, sang the lyrics of this expressive song.

As the song came to a close, the people raised their clenched hands in the air and closed the circle and met in the middle, united as one. As I stood there observing, chills went up and down my spine and I couldn't think of any other place I would rather be than in the United States of America and how proud and blessed we are to be Americans.

Debbie Hummel


I have been proud to be an American all of my adult life. That moment came when I was administered the oath to defend The United States against all enemies, both foreign and domestic, during the World War II era.

I was sworn in as a member of the United States Army at 16 years of age. What a great feeling it was to become a man at such a young age and begin an honorable career. As an American, it was a very proud moment for me!

Ned Renner


I have been proud to be an American all my life. I will be 79 in September.

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