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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Think (09/02/10)

TITLE: Outside In
By Catrina Bradley


I hate getting caught outside the stadium when the national anthem starts playing.

When I'm in my seat at the ball field, I spring to my feet, place my cap over my heart, and add my voice to those of the proud fans surrounding me, at times becoming teary-eyed in gratitude for my freedom.

But outside in the stadium breezeway, among the hotdog vendors, t-shirt hawkers, and souvenir stands, pride in country all but disappears.

You see, whenever I hear those first beloved notes, my ingrained military training rises again, and, no matter where I am or what I'm doing, the command comes unbidden ... "THINK".

Out amongst the crowded masses, however, I can't concentrate on the brave soldiers who carried our banner into battle through the years; I'm too disgusted at the army of my countrymen scurrying to and fro in front of me, ignoring the musical symbol of our nation's freedom.

I can't conjure up an image of six valiant men raising a tattered flag over Iwo Jima, because the spectacle of a mom and dad herding four screaming young boys waving over-sized foam fingers makes me wonder what happened to teaching children respect for their country.

When I try to picture my brothers and sisters in service who made the ultimate sacrifice, all I see are the hundreds of citizens too busy getting where they're going to stop for just a moment in respect of the men and women who secured the freedoms they seem oblivious to.

I should be thinking about the mere children leaving their families and growing up too fast in a foreign land, unselfishly defending the rights of their fellow humans to simply live like humans, but my attention is focused instead on the children in front of me who feel entitled to clamor for more, different, better, and the parents who cater to them.

Oh, yes. Better I stand safely in my assigned place in the stadium thinking my righteous thoughts, oblivious to what remains unseen outside.

Or is it?

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This article has been read 660 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Charla Diehl 09/09/10
There is so much truth to this that it's sad. We need to pray daily for this country and its citizens.
Sarah Heywood09/09/10
Really good thoughts here and I agree completely. I wish that more respect was shown for our country and that all activity, regardless of where, would stop during the 4 minutes or so that the anthem plays. That's something I am attempting to teach my children. Very good!
Gregory Kane09/12/10
I liked your final question
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 09/13/10
You make so many good points in this piece. I've been brazen enough to whispher to the man next to me please remove your hat. I've never had anyone challenge me but I figure those who fought for me deserve that respect.
Barbara Lynn Culler09/16/10
Powerful words.

Like your last line indicates do we have to be in "the zone" so to speak, to be alerted to these issues?

Rachel Phelps09/16/10
Awesome, Cat. As a dear friend of someone who did indeed leave home as a mere child and came back in a wheelchair, I often struggle with this in my peers. Thanks for the well-written reminder.
Amy Michelle Wiley 09/16/10
Oooo, I skimmed over the first part of this once before and didn't stay to read, and now with brick throwing I read it all and discovered I'd missed a great article with a great point. I'll bet you could tweek this a tad and get it published in a magazine.