Citizenship — A Work in Progress

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By Eduard Marmet –, CC BY-SA 3.0,

It was opening day for the Boston Red Sox. We stood, a group of young girls, in formation on the field, Fenway’s famed Green Monster looming behind us. The drums began and the crowd stood. In unison, we raised our fifes to play the shrill notes of “The Star-Spangled Banner.” It was 1976, our country’s Bicentennial year.

St. John’s Colonial Girls Fife and Drum Corp

Our Fife and Drum Corp, known as the Colonial Girls, marched throughout New England that summer, honoring the sites of historic battles. We performed medleys of rousing songs while war reenactments took place at Bunker Hill, Arlington, Lexington and Concord. We were given the profound honor of marching in Washington, D.C., on the Fourth of July, participating in the celebration of our nation’s 200th birthday. We had a front row seat to witness American pride in all its splendor. The pomp, the pageantry, the music and drums made my heart pound and made me stand a little bit straighter.

I was raised secure in the knowledge that I lived in the greatest country on earth. It wasn’t something to be questioned. It was a fact.

Citizenship meant one thing — love for our country and all she stood for.

At the age of 25 I quit my job, left New England, and with a friend took an entire year to drive across the country. Many people asked why we didn’t travel to Europe or places considered more exotic. To me, it was a privilege to spend time getting to know the United States.

The New York skyline, the bayous of Louisiana, the Rocky Mountains and rolling hills of Kansas gave us an appreciation of how vast and diverse the country truly is. We experienced different cultures, cuisine, architecture and economies. Driving down the Pacific Coast Highway is where I fell in love with my future home.

I had always been involved in some sort of volunteerism. Being a mother is where I found my passion for activism. Our dinner table became a place of nightly discussions about race, sexuality, religion, taxes, climate and tolerance. My children questioned everything. Teaching them to gather facts and come to their own conclusions was the catalyst for me to delve further into my own beliefs and to find my voice.

I attended my first rally when Hillary Clinton was running for president. Twenty of us stood on a street corner holding signs and cheering in solidarity for the hope of electing our first female president. My next rally was in Portland, Oregon, where thousands protested to insist on the impeachment of Donald J. Trump.

Protest in Portland, Oregon, December 2019

My children and I marched in a Black Lives Matter protest recently. I watched them stand with their friends and community, participating in the fight for a more perfect union.

Like each and every one of us, the United States of America is a work in progress. Being a citizen demands responsibility. We must question. We must learn, be informed and use our voice.

Citizenship is more than the love of country. It is the pursuit of something greater than ourselves.

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