Friday, February 27, 2015

What I Stand (Up) For by Carolyn

What I Stand (Up) For

     Is there anything as moving as seeing former service men and women standing proudly at attention the moment they hear the first note of the song that represents their branch of service? The sight gives me chills every time I see it. One such moment occurred last November at our school's Veterans' Day celebration. Seeing their ramrod-straight spines, the looks of pride on their faces, and a few glints of tears in their eyes as they stood for their song, I began to think about what songs I stand up for.
     I have never been in the military, so I don't stand up for "The Wild Blue Yonder" or "The Halls of Montezuma" or "The Army Goes Rolling Along". I do, however, proudly stand up when I hear the first strains of the national anthem or "America the Beautiful".  I also rise and enthusiastically sing the words of "Texas, Our Texas" to show my pride in my great state. And, proud Aggie that I am, I will happily jump to my feet to sing along with "The Spirit of Aggieland". And, of course, I absolutely must link arms and sway along with my fellow Aggies as we belt out "The Aggie War Hymn". There is such a swell of pride in my heart when I hear any of those songs, because they are the embodiment of places I hold dear. There are also a few praise and worship songs that I stand up for when I hear them, because sometimes my soul won't allow me to sit and sing - I just need to stand up to worship God!
     Thinking about the songs I stand up for led me to think about how that represents ME. If I care about a song enough to stand up for it, surely that shows where my allegiance lies. That line of thought also carried me to consider how else I show what I stand for. I regularly wear two rings: one is a claddagh my older son gave me for Christmas a few years ago. The claddagh is a symbol of Ireland which speaks of loyalty, love, and friendship. I wear that ring as a symbol of my love for Ireland, as a representation of my Irish heritage, and as a link to my family. The other ring I wear regularly is my Aggie ring, which of course represents my affiliation with all of the former students of TAMU. Although I didn't get my Aggie ring until more than 30 years after my graduation (thanks, Robin), it is very important to me. The rings I wear represent part of who I am.
     I also realized that in our society, people often use bumper stickers to show their interests or affiliations. I have two bumper stickers: one says "Texas State University Mom" a gift I prize from my older son, a graduate of Texas State, and the other reads "Aggie Mom", which my younger son gave me as a surprise when he gained admittance to TAMU.  Those bumper stickers proudly proclaim my pride in both of my sons who have shown great perseverance in pursuing their degrees in spite of the difficulties they have faced.
     Considering how we outwardly show what we stand for has made me think about how we truly demonstrate our values in our daily lives. For instance, I've always been a little leery of posting a bumper sticker that boasts of my Christian beliefs for fear I would do something obnoxious while driving and reflect badly on God. Not that I am a particularly aggressive or reckless driver, but I do make my share of thoughtless mistakes behind the wheel that might offend another driver. I also know that quite often I see people, whether in real life or celebrities on TV, wearing a cross around their necks while behaving in ways that should mortify any God-fearing person. While I believe absolutely in the forgiveness of sin, I abhor the idea that we are free to purposely act badly because we have a merciful God. I don't ever want to bring shame on what I hold dear by my words or actions, so if I decide to wear a piece of jewelry, or stick on a bumper sticker, or stand up for a particular song, I must be sure that my life will promote, not detract from, what I outwardly proclaim.

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