Are we losing patriotism? Or losing faith?

John Knight is stirring a little patriotism in the waters of Wilson Pond.

Knight, a veteran of the war in Korea, raises his trombone every night at 8 p.m. and plays taps, delivering 24 notes of pride to his neighbors around the pond in Wilton. The music is returned each night by Don Fonseca, a Vietnam War vet and retired Marine who tolls eight bells, signaling a traditional Navy watch change.

The good-night exchange is stirring.

Knight says he started playing taps because he remembers its calming influence while serving in the Army. For Fonseca, ringing the bell is about remembering fallen comrades.

Knight is 86 years old; Fonseca is 62 and in poor health. This musical devotion is no small effort for either man, but each sustains his respective commitment night after night throughout the summer.

Their shared performance is patriotism come alive.

Patriotism — defined as “a love or devotion to your homeland” — is demonstrated in a great many ways, from laying wreaths at military funerals and memorial services, to cheering home a child’s run at the neighborhood Little League park.

We’ve seen patriotism demonstrated in the Gulf of Mexico as people fight to protect this country’s coastline and the way of life that exists — or used to exist — there.

Protests — protected by the First Amendment — are as patriotic as the Pledge of Allegiance.

As Americans enjoy the freedoms of this country that are the envy of the world, patriotism among the majority is on the decline, according to a Gallup poll released earlier this month.

According to the Gallup findings, 42 percent of American adults say they are “very patriotic,” down from 44 percent in 1994. In July, 19 percent say they are “somewhat patriotic,” down from 28 percent in 1994.

A recorded 6 percent of current-day adults don’t see themselves as especially patriotic at all. These are probably the people who don’t take off their hats during the National Anthem at Fenway.

Among those surveyed, Republicans and conservatives ranked themselves more patriotic than other Americans, growing 11 percent in patriotism since 1994, and men reported greater patriotic tendencies than women. The least patriotic are Americans ages 18 to 29, followed closely by self-described liberals, but most Americans do report some measure of patriotism.

According to a New York Times story on the poll results, though, nearly half of the people surveyed said “the next generation of Americans would enjoy less personal freedom than the current generation. Those who are older and wealthier were more likely to see government regulations as a serious threat to freedom. Younger people and nonwhites were more likely to see lack of economic opportunity as a serious threat.”

Of course, worry about economic opportunities and government regulations isn’t necessarily a signal that Americans love their country less than a decade ago, just that they may not have the same faith in government as they once did.

In Wilton, the playing of taps signifies the end of the day on Wilson Pond, a time when all is well and its residents are safely to rest.

Maybe patriotism is flagging elsewhere because all is not well in the United States, and not every citizen can rest in peace.

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Melissa  Dunn's picture

patriotism and faith have

patriotism and faith have been lost... the whole community and help your neighbor has been lost. people are too 'busy', just don't care, lack sympathy, lack empathy... are too quick to judge... and its sad.

RONALD RIML's picture

"Freedom-Fry Patriotism" - Hallmark of the Bush Administration!

And don't forget:

"Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel." - Samuel Johnson, 1775

Now what movement is it whose adherents dress up like colonial 'patriots,' demanding 'their' country back??

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

Your last line is quite

Your last line is quite accurate; thanks to liberals and their giveaway policies.

RONALD RIML's picture

Liberals 'Give Away' in America....

Conservatives take it out of America and send it overseas.

Glad that works for you.

Ed Enos's picture


Actually, the neighbors would probably be checking on the missing performer if they didn't hear it.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

How many military campaigns

How many military campaigns have Biden and oBAMa served in?

RONALD RIML's picture

Obama and Biden aren't 'Warmongers' unlike certain 'Repugs'

That's what makes all the difference in the world.

A 'Chickenhawk' is one who extolls the virtues of going to war without the experience where he, himself, would have been placed in such jeopardy.

Consider George W. Bush. When his draft number came up - rather than follow the route most other young Texans and prepare for induction, he quickly sought sanctuary by joining the Texas National Guard. Guard units rarely got mobilized for duty in Vietnam, and were considered a 'ticket' out. One problem - there was a waiting list of 160 guys ahead of Dubya waiting to get in for two openings - one solution: Dubya's 'Poppie' was U.S. Representative for the 7th District of Texas. Dubya's waiting time to get into the Guard, with his draft deferment expiring in thirteen days, melted away from a year-and-a-half to a 'Done Deal.' The requirement for 23 weeks of Officer Candidate School was also waived, and he was immediately commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant.

Bush had earlier taken the Air Force officer qualifications test while at Yale, and scored the lowest possible passing grade of 25%; yet he was immediately accepted upon application into an elite flight unit noted for assignment of many sons of the politically connected elite.

Now flying a jet fighter/interceptor is by no means a safe, cushy job. But it was probably no more dangerous for young George Bush, who already had two OUI's, two traffic collisions, and a well-known penchant for speed, hot cars, and excessive drinking. This was nothing more for him than another adrenalin rush, a great 'Chick-Magnet, and - best of all - a "Get out of 'Nam Free" ticket. He also got to earn a small living flying exotic plants between Florida and Texas. Hmmm...... And some other poor Son of Texas got to slog through the muck and mire of Vietnam, his boots rotting away in mildew, sucking packets of kool-aide to disguise the foul chemical taste of the water, while he humped 85 pounds of gear through the boonies, dreaming of his R&R where no doubt he'd pick up the clap or some other disease requiring his fifth appendage get roto-rootered out... Fun!!!

Of course we, in the Navy, had it much better. I joined as a mere youth of 17, not even thinking of the draft way back in '64 before the Tonkin Gulf Incident. I had one idea of what I wanted to do - but the Navy had another. Having just graduated from High School, the last thing I wanted to do was to go back to school - but to sea! The Navy sent me to classes for well over a year, teaching me electronics, radar systems, primitive computers, and how to make these systems work together so that missiles can hit targets and guns can shoot straight. No 'Kentucky Windage' here!!

Got orders to pick up a ship in San Diego - but lo and behold - it wasn't there! Seems it had got three days notice to head for some place called Viet Nam, where iot had just returned from some month or two earlier. Played a little flight 'tag' - and finally caught up with the ship when it had pulled back to our base at Subic Bay in the Phillippines for a few days upkeep and R&R. For those who don't know it, Subic Bay - with it's town, Olongapo - are the closets thing to 'Disneyland' for Sailors (and the lucky Marines) who stop there. I really can't go into it, because most of it is triple 'X' rated, but you can watch a watered down version in the movie "Flight of the Intruder" - 'nuff said.

Now when we got back to San Diego some months later, I ran into an old high school friend of mine. Hell, I didn't even know he'd joined the Navy. He was a radarman, or some such thing which would normally be on a big ship, but was now going to go through some training for these new small boats. He was a real serious when he put his mind to something, thrived on action and competition and I knew he'd love that sh*t.

Never heard much more of him for a number of years till I got out of the Navy went back home to Illinois. He'd been in the swift boats, seen a bit of action up and down the rivers, but didn't talk about it much. Was mad as hell at one of his commanding officers for turning against the war - but that was it. 'Wop' - as we called him, was a union electrician, pretty conservative, ran for the school board, and was as straight-shooter as you'de find. I was still a rabid, reactionary conservative, got #1 on the Police hiring list without my Daddy's help, and eventually went back into the Navy Reserve.

Found something out though. People change over the years. Turns out the boat 'Wop' - Jim Wasser, was Leading Petty Officer on, PCF-44 - became famous as the one in which John Kerry first served as commanding Officer; Jim was already onboard when Kerry took over.

John Kerry quickly figured out something both Jim and I didn't for quite a very long time. Vietnam was a senseless, cruel war that America was not going to win, but had only debased the very principles upon which our nation was founded.

Kerry was not a coward. He went to war - saw it for what it was - and did use the system to return to the United States where he felt he could best fight against the war. Yet Jim and I both hated him for it at the time.

George Bush, on the other hand, knowing that he did not want to expose himself to war, used the system to remain in the United States.

So who then, is the Coward??? Who would I most trust to send others into battle?

We know how history played out with the "Swift Boat Veteran for Truth" etc. But here are some facts you must consider.

Of all the enlisted men who served under Lt. Kerry, only one, Steven Gardner, was critical of his actions. All of the others either actively supported him during the campaign - or remained neutral.

The criticism originated from officers, a number of whom had actually written and signed glowing fitness reports (evaluations) during the time John Kerry was on active duty. What then, had changed? The Officer Corp is very political, certain segments shift with the wind. Enlisted, on the other hand, tend to respect a good leader, and damn those who are not.

But now, all is history - except for those veterans wounded and maimed in what our government knew in 1968 was an unwinnable war. One George W. Bush was certainly not willing to fight in.

RONALD RIML's picture

The Silence of our Conservative Friends is, indeed, Deafening

Obviously struck a note which they are afraid to respond to.

RONALD RIML's picture

One of my Shipmates was blown overboard

by a gunblast - and luckily for him, was picked out of the water by some fishermen. Unluckily, the fishermen were North Vietnamese..... ;(

He wound up spending three years in a P.O.W. Camp - an E-2 with everyone else being pilots.... Got an 'Early release' as they figured he was a nobody, and he came back with the names of 260 pilots, many of whom were M.I.A's. Wound up being a SERE school instructor; he's retired now, and a good liberal.

But I guess you gotta be a raging azz conservative to count for shidt with the blackshirts here....

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

But I didn't say that, did I?

But I didn't say that, did I?

Kevin Murphy's picture


You should probably have a couple of cups of coffee before you post. That was over the top even for you.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

Americans have ALWAYS needed

Americans have ALWAYS needed a cause to openly display their Patriotism. We have one NOW. Vote the free spending scumbags out of office at every level of government and let's take our country back. If that isn't a cause, what's it gonna take? Another 9-11?

RONALD RIML's picture

Did you have such fervor against overspendors?

When it was Reagan who put us into great debt?? - 20.6% GDP

Bush I??? - 15% GDP

Bush II??? 27.1% GDP

Or did it finally take Obama for you to find Religion??? What's so different about him? (Besides the obvious?)

BTW - Everyone else since WW-II ran surpluses.....

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

What is BGO's % of GDP? No

What is BGO's % of GDP? No fudging, now. "What's so different about him?" Ever hear of the Pied Piper? We're living it.

RONALD RIML's picture

You also lived though Reagan and both Bushes.

Where was your righteous indignation??


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