A Vital Sense of Patriotism by Cyrus Kamkar (’18)

We are approaching Veterans Day in a time overwhelmed with bitter partisanship, a slow and halted economy, and fear of losing loved ones from unfamiliar forces.

Although the circumstances are different, the roots of the struggles are much the same from past experiences in this country. Our nation’s veterans should be looked up to in these challenging times as our country’s force of bravery and heroism. They are a reminder that, even in the worst of times, there is a fortitude within our people to selflessly sacrifice everything for a cause greater than ourselves.

Something I found especially admirable upon speaking with WWII veterans, was the strong sense of duty these men felt over 75 years ago. One cannot undermine the patriotism that this great struggle was backed by. Not only did this sense of patriotism accompany the soldiers overseas to Europe and the Pacific, it was overwhelmingly true at home, as well. Patriotism was within the school teachers, factory workers, mothers, postal workers, farmers, shop owners, and more.

It seems to me that the statement “veterans sacrificed to preserve your liberties,” may be overused to the point that people no longer recognize the value within such statements. With this in mind, I would like to emphasize what statements like this truly mean; at least to me:

The United States was built off of ideas; ideas that had not been implemented within government prior to its construction. Perhaps most important is the idea of the sovereign individual. Men and women are sovereign; each with divine value.

Along with this sovereignty and divine value, comes rights. However, these rights do not come from the government; rather, individuals are born with rights. Rights are God-given; or natural. To encroach upon these rights, is to limit the spirit within individuals. These ideas manifested throughout the West, and throughout time, made countries increasingly free. It is important to recognize the fragility of these fundamental principles, and the necessity for brave men and women to preserve them. Thomas Paine once said that “the cause of America is in a great measure the cause of all mankind.”

In closing, I would like to share a message from a local WWII veteran, James “JP” Peterson, who I have known for a few years. I asked JP the following question, intending to incorporate his answer within this column: “If you could say anything that you wish future generations to take away and remember from your generation on this Veterans Day and beyond, what would it be?” His answer truly moved me.

Dear Cyrus,

If my father, an immigrant from Greece, did not survive the trenches in France in WW1 after being blown up, I would not be here.

The fact that I am here indicates who I am. You know the “order of priorities”.

God, Country, Family, Friends, Myself.

We take care of business in that order. I have done something that I am leaving behind after I am gone. Started the Greek Orthodox Church in Santa Cruz, CA. for GOD, Served my country in WWll in the U.S. Navy, Adopted two children from Greece while taking care of my family, developed long-term friendships and finally tried to take care of myself in order to take care of others. I will await my harvest.

In the meantime, I am a veteran of WWll and still around. It is very humbling to see my comrades falling all around me. I will await my judgement.

Living in this world is like being in a very strange place. What happened to “MY World”?

Where did all the honest hand shakers who committed themselves to others go? The silence makes me feel lonesome not to relate.

I am very optimistic that there are enough young leaders out there like yourself, that you will be able to steer the ship in the right direction. GOD bless you and GOD speed!” – JP


Cyrus Kamkar, a longtime Central Coast resident, is a Mount Madonna School graduate (‘18) and currently a political science major and pre-law student at Syracuse University, Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. He has conducted a series of projects within the veterans’ community, consisting of interviews with WWII veterans, panel discussions, and helped to coordinate the 2019 Veterans Day commemoration in downtown Santa Cruz.


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Nestled among the redwoods on 375 acres, Mount Madonna School (MMS) is a diverse learning community dedicated to creative, intellectual, and ethical growth. MMS supports its students in becoming caring, self-aware, discerning and articulate individuals; and believe a fulfilling life includes personal accomplishments, meaningful relationships and service to society. The CAIS and WASC accredited program emphasizes academic excellence, creative self-expression and positive character development. Located on Summit Road between Gilroy and Watsonville. Founded in 1979.