Patriotic spirit burns bright

Published 9:47 am Monday, January 16, 2012

I have always been a patriotic sort of person.

The United States of America certainly isn’t perfect, but I like living here and I wouldn’t go anywhere else if I could. I might want to visit, but I’d stay here in this country.

Because of my feeling of love for this wonderful, but imperfect country in which we live, I try diligently to be respectful of our national symbols be they the American Flag or any other.

I always say the two most sacred documents on this planet are the Bible and the Constitution of the United States. I believe in both of them, even if I don’t always follow either as closely as I should.

My duties here include covering board meetings and athletic events. Both of them give me the opportunity to show patriotism. The local boards almost always begin their meeting with a Pledge of Allegiance to the flag. Sporting events usually include the playing or singing of the National Anthem.

While my love of country is always on my mind during those times, my thoughts have changed over the last several years. They are more personal in nature than they used to be.

During every single playing of the National Anthem and every time I repeat the Pledge, three people cross my mind. It happens without fail and is almost involuntary.

I remember my grandfather, Sidney H. Scott, who was a World War II veteran. I always knew he was, but his death brought us even closer to that fact. We found photos and it also made my mother talk more about his service.

His service and those of the men of his generation are always near my mind.

Some six years or more ago, those thoughts were joined by those of Lt. Nick Brantley. I knew Nick a good portion of his life and have always know what a solid person he was. He excelled in everything he did.

When he lost his life in military maneuvers off the Carolina coast, I was shocked, saddened and changed forever.

Since his death, a group of people began the Lt. Nick Brantley Scholarship Tournament and I’ve been involved with it since day one. It is a good way to remember him, his courage and the legacy of God, country and family he left behind.

Just over a year ago, we lost another of our heroes when U.S. Army Sgt. Will McLawhorn was killed in action in Afghanistan. He was a good soldier, a loving family man and a true hero.

Standing at his funeral was one of the more difficult things I’ve ever done. His parents are amazing people who I care for very deeply. Their loss and the loss of this nation are something I will never forget.

Those three men always come to my mind now when I stand to say the Pledge or rise for the National Anthem. I think of their sacrifice – especially the two who did not return home – and their love for this great country.

They are heroes and forever will be in my memory and in my thoughts.

I remember vividly during my grandfather’s funeral, the National Guardsman folded the U.S. flag and one of them knelt before my mother.  Handing her the flag, they said to accept it “on behalf of the President of the United States and a grateful nation.”

I am part of that grateful nation. Because of my grandfather, because of Nick and because of Will – I know what is truly sacrificed for this to be the greatest nation on earth.


Thadd White is Managing Editor of Roanoke-Chowan Publications. He can be reached via email at or by telephone at 332-7211.