What happened to patriotism?

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By Jamie Baker-Nantz

Wade Gutman was so moved by the events of 9/11, he went up and down the streets of Williamstown placing flags outside of businesses to show American pride.
Judy Conrad, of Dry Ridge, has always considered herself patriotic, especially since she comes from a family with a history  of military service.
“I think we’ve fallen into a rut,” Conrad said.”Until something else happens, people forget about patriotism.”
Following the Sept. 11, 2011 attacks, Conrad wrote a letter to the Grant County News encouraging residents and businesses to proudly fly their American flags.
“Shouldn’t we be praying for our service men and women and waving the flag 24 hours a day, 365 days a year? Let’s not wait for a crisis to be proud of who we are and where we live,” Conrad wrote in her letter published Sept. 20, 2011.
She is the daughter of a Navy Seabee who was a prisoner of war for a short time during WW II.  Her husband is an Air Force Veteran and her son, Kyle, serves aboard the USS Sterett.
Conrad said her family has flown an American flag for more than 20 years.
“People don’t realize the sacrifice that not only the servicemen and women but of their families,” she said.
Conrad’s son will leave for deployment at the end of the year. This will be his second tour of duty that takes him away from his daughters, ages 1 and 3, for the second Christmas.
Conrad said she encourages patriotism and is proud that schools in Grant County continue to pledge daily to the American flag.
“After Sept. 11, people were more patriotic,” she said. “I wondered why they weren’t flying the flag before that day, but too often people don’t get on the bandwagon until something bad happens.”
For Gutman, passing out the flags was a way to unify the community.
“Everyone was so mad,” he said. “Someone said we need to put some flags out, so I said let’s put them up everywhere.”
Gutman said he was standing inside the lobby of Eagle Bank, now Forcht Bank, when he heard the news.
Gutman  is the director of the Grant County Chamber of Commerce. Prior to that he worked and retired from American Airlines.
“Complacency is what caused it,” he said. “The government, back then, wasn’t as serious about terrorism as it should have been, but it caused people to think and react, but rural communities are extremely patriotic and I believe our patriotism is still there, it’s just been pushed back because nothing else has happened.”
Sharon Goderwis,  of Dry Ridge, also wrote a letter encouraging people to be patriotic.
“We need to show more support and patriotism by simply hanging our country’s flag. By doing so, we are making a stand and sending a message to all the people who think they can tear this country apart,” Goderwis wrote in her letter.
Ten years later, Conrad would like to see a resurgence of patriotism.
“I don’t know what the answer is, but I’d like for people to recognize their patriotism for more than just one day,” she said.