The word PATRIOTISM stirs up deep feelings among some, while eliciting little reaction from others.
From Webster's Dictionary: PATRIOTISM is a noun, love and loyal or zealous support of one's own country.
This was my dad's story. In 1941, at the age of 19 as a newlywed, he enlisted in the Army. He landed on the beaches of France on D-Day +4. Many years later, he explained to me that he was called to defend his country. His judgment came into serious question, at the time, from others in his life. Yet, he felt the call to duty and it was not to be denied.
He fought through the Battle of the Bulge and ultimately on to Berlin with his buddies. It was an experience that profoundly changed the rest of his life.
At the end of the War, my folks settled in Bend, Oregon where I was born. One of my earliest memories is that of my Dad being in a parade as part of a marching band on the main street of our little town. I was taught at a very early age to stand and cover my heart at the sound of the Star Spangled Banner or passing of Our Flag.
My father never regretted any of what he gave to his country. He was deeply proud of his country and his contribution. Each summer, the family would travel to some distant place for a reunion of his army unit. It was an annual tradition for us.
At the moment of his passing, he was 77 years old. My brother and I were standing on each side of his hospital bed. Each of us held a hand of the man who had brought us into this world and guided us through its difficulties. We listened to the Star Spangled Banner play on a small tape machine in his room as he took his last breath. He was a consummate patriot.
It was not until after he was gone that I realized that he had planted a seed of patriotism in me that would bloom more fully than ever before. For me, that patriotism manifested itself in the pride and commitment I felt to my country through police work. There was a pervasive honor that came with wearing the uniform. Playing just a small part in making the world better for others became my way to honor my country and give something back in return for all that I had been given.
As I matured (that's a nice way of saying "getting old"), I found that my sense of patriotism expanded exponentially.
HOW DOES THIS RELATE TO COPPERY?
In the good old days, many, if not most cops, came from the military service. They had been raised in a standard two-parent home. They went onto military service where (as my Dad used to say), "They'll either make a man out of you or kill you in the process of trying."
These cops held onto the traditional values of their upbringing.
These cops understood the concept of chain of command and adapted quickly to the paramilitary environment of a cop shop.
They understood the concept of commitment to your fellow solider. There were a variety of phrases used in the different branches of the service, but the message was constant: we live and die together as a team. There are no exceptions.
These cops were called to duty from a higher authority. They understood honor and the terrible result of bringing dishonor to your team, your department, or the Badge.
Back in those days (yes, we had pencils AND cars back then), cops worked mostly in pairs. Successful partner relationships evolved over time into one that was as close two people could get without being married. Your partner witnessed you in situations that your wife never would (and wouldn't want to).
If a cop got out of line (e.g. alcohol, another woman, etc.), he wouldn't stray far before his partner would tug (or jerk) on his chain and bring him back onto the straight and narrow. The cop community policed itself, so-to-speak. A wildly wayward cop was the rare exception.
OH, HOW THINGS HAVE CHANGED
In our country today it seems that the evening news all to frequently has a feature story about an errant cop. We probably hear one of those once or twice each week. Each time, I cringe in anguish.