Veterans Day, Friday’s national honor of our veterans, again, made me so aware of a key missing element from our American chemistry.

It’s the kinship that comes from the collective experience of a nation and is one that evokes a familial level of caring.

Too often those experiences that transform us into American fellows are the calamities that traumatize universally.

But, for Veteran’s Day, the fact that we set aside a day to honor those who have served is a demonstration of that very unity.

The adhesive quality among those who didn’t just “ask what they can do for their country” but have done it, is on display. It gives us a dose of that elixir for our ailing camaraderie which we sorely need.

The pandemic is such a calamity that would have, decades ago, been handled as a unified nation did in the past with health crises like Spanish influenza or polio.

But a political toxin has been distilling in the American lab for years and was injected into the body politic some six years ago, turning citizen conjoined twins into mortal enemies.

What could possibly neutralize such a toxin?

Perhaps an endeavor that could engender a sense of investiture in something larger than simple citizenship and self. It is experience that can trigger a positive mutation in our patriotic DNA and illuminate the vitalness of national belonging. It could work and it has before.

Although such federal programs might look vastly different from the Works Progress Administration of the Depression era, a creative interpretation of that effort could be revitalized.

A brief service to country by every able-bodied young American could be an effective antidote to a cynicism that’s risen to a septic level.

Today’s near absence of selflessness would certainly not permit a compulsory service, but there are substantial inducements and incentives that could be instituted to great effect for national participation (i.e. the G.I. bill).

The drivers of a nation’s patriotic sensibility are varied and complex but one experience our Greatest Generation shared on a larger scale was service to country; some in the military, some in WPA projects and others volunteering to prosper the whole.

Such shared effort is the ethos and spirit of a nation.

Save for the less than one half of one percent of our population, who voluntarily serve one of our military branches, such collective participation is absent today.

Like a two-part epoxy of resin and hardener, creating a like bond in a civic sense requires one part citizen and one part resolve.

Although such an effort wouldn’t be a panacea to our many problems, I think the notion more than a hollow artifice which has the potential to entice us to realize that our shared love of country is far more powerful than our differences.

Justin Coleman, Hahira

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