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What is a patriot? The word itself cannot be defined by a dictionary because patriotism is a subjective interpretation in and of itself. As a result, the word has different layers of meaning and various subjective interpretations that are, of course, unique to every individual.

I played a lot of sports throughout my life, from sandlot pickup games, to high school, college, and professional levels. I played a number of both individual and team sports. Some seasons we were good, some seasons we were great, and some seasons we were awful. Sometimes the teams were great. Sometimes the teams were not so good. Yet every team, good or bad, and in every season, good or bad, we all played our hearts out for the team.

Even when we knew we were going to get our asses whipped, we still showed up, took the field, and gave it everything we had. Even when we lost, we could still hold our heads up high, knowing that even in losing, we did not let our buddies, our teammates, or our team down. We played because we were on a team. We were part of something bigger than each of us alone. We fought for our cause – to show that we respected our name, our school, our fans, and, of course, all those who had played on those teams, all the years before us. We were loyal to our team. We gave our best efforts to our cause and to express that loyalty each and every time, often against the odds. And we stuck with our team through thick and thin, win, lose, or draw, knowing that we had all agreed that we were in this until the very end.

Sometimes we lost, and sometimes we won, but we never ever gave up. We never rested on our laurels or gloated over victories because we all knew that next week we would be tested again, and our previous victories would not be on the field with us, but on the field with us would be the ghosts of those players past, the legacy and the honor of all of the teams who gave their best on those same courts or fields. That was always our greatest strength, our greatest inspiration, and incentive. Win or lose, those ideals never let us down, and we did what we could to honor them. That's about as close to describing patriotism as I can get.

We are a nation. We are a way of life. We are a legacy. We are a team. We are the team members who will never disown or disrespect those who have endeavored before us to keep that dream alive. I am damn proud to be on this team. We are Americans. We are Patriots. 

And in closing, we must never ever forget the terror of 9/11/2001. For as always, our next opponent is just around the bend, and we must always be ready to take the field again. We must always be ready to protect, honor, and defend our legacy. That is what a Patriot does.

Happy Patriots' Day! 

God Bless America! 

Ernest Emerson.

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