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American way

Know which flag belongs to you.


Follow the American Way from the start: Know who you are.

You could be anyone from anywhere, but step out of the country and you’re That American.

Unless you go to a resort used by other Americans, you might find yourself isolated.

But don’t be afraid, just know the American Way of getting along.

Ugly or pretty, polite or rude, you’ll leave an impression one way or the other.

How do you leave an impression for others to follow.

It starts with education. It always starts with education.

If you were a history major in college, you have a good idea of where to start.

Didn’t go to college?

Start reading, but what?

Find an author with a writer’s voice that speaks to you.

If they’re on twitter and facebook, see what they have to say outside the pages in real life.

David Sedaris on twitter for example:

american way

This is a writer with 7 million books in print, yet on twitter has posted thirty four times and follows one person.

Not a real social media user/abuser since he’s not getting personal the way experts explain to get personal.

Instead he does it for business, and business is selling books.

One David to another, he’s got it figured out the way people who do things you think you could do.

They make it look easy.

But you don’t do what David Sedaris does because it’s not easy.

The American Way? It’s never easy, but you keep trying.


I don’t come from a family with a flag pole in the front yard and civic minded parents.

The old man came out of a tree swinging small town in SW Washington.

An athlete with a shelf of trophies, he grew up in an era listening to WWII vets talk about ‘their war.’

He joined the Marines for his war, the Korean Conflict. It took a lot out of him.

What it put into him was about five bullets and the knowledge of what doing his duty actually meant.

He saved lives in combat, his fellow Marine’s lives. He probably took a few Korean and Chinese lives in trade.

After that he came home, got married, and started a family.

He left the Corps, went to college, had more kids, and got The Job.

No one had to tell him his place, or explain how to find it.


My first touch of the flag came from Boy Scouts.

Boy Scouts and Old Glory are a perfect match.

In high school and college I competed in an Olympic sport, where if you’re good enough you represent America on the world stage.

The highlight was wresting for a Junior National title in Iowa. Good wrestlers win a few of those.

I tied the eventual champ, lost by a point to the second place guy, and collected a small third place plaque. The two I didn’t beat went on to win lots of honors.

So did a few I beat.


After freshman wrestling I dropped out, joined the U.S. Army, and won a tryout for the All-Army Team.

The Army is big on the American Way. And flags.

They teach you to respect everything, be accountable for anything, and give the correct answers when questioned.

So far, Boy Scouts, wrestling, and the Army showed me how to keep score.

Anyone without those tickets punched were suspect if you didn’t know them.

A stranger could talk up a steaming pile, but without the credentials that’s all it will ever be.


The full impact of the American Way came when I met HER.

If you fall in love with the right person, you want the best place to be with them.

Instead of tearing things down to make yourself look bigger, you build them up.

America does that over and over, the building up stuff.

A world without that effort leaves too much undone.

Make a family with kids and cars and the whole disaster to feel the full impact.

You want to get things right, make things better, and not just for your people.

Others in need deserve a helping hand up. If not yours, then someone you trust.

That’s a voting proposition.


Standing in front of staged podium with flags in the background is a rush.

It’s not stolen valor to take a picture, but a rare honor in the right context.

Put yourself on that podium for the feeling and try not to tear up.

The shot comes from the Olympic Museum at the top of Squaw Valley, home of the 1960 Winter Olympics.

Anyone can stand for a picture, just notice which flag you’re in front of.

If you haven’t been in uniform, learned to tie knots and make fires, if you haven’t put yourself in the risk pool of military service, it’s just another nice pic.

To me it felt like sharing a moment with people I’ll never know from a time of innocence.

It felt good, the sort of good you might feel when education makes a difference.

And it always makes a difference. Pass it along.

About David Gillaspie
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