What it means to be an American: A summer night in Pawcatuck
Editor’s note: This is one in a series of essays by readers in response to the question of what it means to be an American.
On a July summer night several years ago, at the Pawcatuck Dairy Queen picnic table, the stage is set for what it is “to be an American.”
My husband, Bill, and I often buy each other an ice cream cone and sit with whomever is at the Dairy Queen picnic table. My dad of 97 years was a World War II veteran and would join us. He always proudly wore his hat that stated just that, the name of his ship he fought on. His ship was at Pearl Harbor the day after the attack. He did not boast of his role in the war; he was humble to be part of this great country.
Arthur A. Bald was a valedictorian of his class, captain of his football team and married 70 years to Laurette. His years in the Navy as a Chief Petty Officer were some of the best years of his life. My brother went to the Naval Academy, my other brother was an oral surgeon on an aircraft carrier. To be an American was a staple in our home of six children.
On this particular July night, we were at the Dairy Queen picnic table when a young man approached my dad. He asked him questions about his time in the Navy and thanked my father for his service. He then asked him if he would represent the veterans of WWII in the upcoming parade.
Arthur looked at my husband and I and proudly said yes. At that moment I saw a man who was proud to be an American, because he had earned it.
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