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I fell in love with America when I was a little girl. My patriotism stems from celebrating our country’s birthday with my family.

Our Fourth of July festivities looked like a Norman Rockwell painting. Old Glory would fly high on the flagpole in the center of the front yard of my grandparents’ log cabin that overlooked a river.

There were freckle-faced children, a couple of dogs that would try to snag bites of food and the sound of a cranking ice cream maker. At night, we’d circle the flag pole with our sparklers and catch fireflies in jars that would serve as our night lights.

Patriotism has always been important to my family, but the love for America is instilled in the hearts of each new generation. I’ve tried to carry on this heritage with my children and grandchildren.