I don’t know if I would consider myself as always having been a patriot.
Certainly, since meeting my fiancé, who served in Afghanistan, I have more appreciation for our military. Admittedly, he influenced me to start the DAYL’s Attorneys Serving Troops committee. But looking back at my childhood, my parents’ message was not overtly – ‘be proud you’re an American,’ but rather, it was subtle, anecdotal but consistent: “Back home, we would have been executed for saying that,” my father would tell me from time to time, as we watched the news at night. Or sometimes, he would shake his head at the screen, “Americans just don’t know how lucky they are to have all this freedom – without suffering. They seem to forget how much freedom costs.”
I hope you’ll cut my dad some slack for his criticism. He narrowly escaped the Pol Pot regime of Cambodia where millions of people were killed – some for speaking out, some for being able to read, and some for just wearing glasses. (You get the picture).
I remember helping my parents study for their citizenship test. The frustration sometimes caused me to whine, “Why are we doing this again?” Their death stares shut me up, as we continued to study historical facts that I did not even learn in school. I never got an explanation, but when my parents took their oaths to become American citizens, their beaming faces said it all. Needless to say, my parents couldn’t wait to vote. And when I became 18, they couldn’t wait for me to vote. And every four years, they ask me who I voted for.
So I guess that was my foundation for patriotism…it was simply expected of me because of my parents’ arduous journey to freedom, but it wasn’t until the tragic events of September 11, 2001 that I genuinely felt it – that I personally felt sadness, pain and anger because my country (and my countrywomen and men) had been attacked. And felt like it was my duty as a citizen to do something about it.
While I obviously was not here at the time, DAYL was no different – and through that year’s leadership class, the Freedom Run was born. Yes, the Freedom Run is a fundraiser for a noble organization – the Assist the Officer Foundation, which provides assistance for first responders who put their lives at risk every day. But it’s so much more than that.
It’s an opportunity for us to unite and honor the heroes and victims of those tragic events of September 11, 2001. It’s an opportunity to do celebrate those who sacrifice their lives for us every day. It’s our opportunity to show the world that Dallas young lawyers are patriots, especially on Patriot’s Day. On September 11, 2014, I hope you’ll join me in letting freedom run. www.freedomrun.com.