|The sound of the National Anthem being sung always gives me chills and evokes a strong feeling of pride in my country, which I learned as a child. This overpowering sense of patriotism wasn't learned in a classroom, but was absorbed while watching a thin, quiet man of 75 in his own living room.|
When our parents went out for the evening, my older brother and I stayed overnight at my grandparents' house and slept on their sun porch. Iowa summers were short, but even the nights were warm. Lying on the porch glider, listening to the June bugs buzz and pop at the screens, I wasn't sure if this was a neat adventure or whether I was really scared. From his sleeping bag on the floor, my brother exulted in whispering terrorizing stories of what those creepy noises at the screen might really be.
Being only 7 years old and given the ghostly stories, I was greatly relieved that through the doorway I could see the top of a bald head and the dim flicker of the black and white television dancing on the walls. Grampa was certainly not a superhero figure, being only a Studebaker salesman and all, but his presence was quite comforting nonetheless.
It was the fifties and in those days television “signed off” after the news and weather at 10:00. But, before signing off, they always played the National Anthem and showed pictures of beautiful countryside and our flag.
As the drum roll began and before the “Oh say, can you see,” Grampa rose from the sofa and stood straight and tall and I could see his right arm go up to cover his heart. Alone in his living room, silently, this gentle man instilled in his grandchildren a sense of allegiance and pride that can never be erased.
Dedicated to the memory of William Robison