Real patriots don’t necessary wear their national flag as a cape. Real patriots don’t always have to tattoo their love of their country on their bodies. In fact, real patriots don’t have to be born in the country they have sworn their allegiance to.
What do you reckon?
I consider myself a patriot. I love Australia. I joined the Australian Defence Force 10 years ago so I can contribute and defend Australia and its national interests when I am needed. I also believe strongly in the ANZAC tradition.
However, I was not born in Australia. My family immigrated to this lucky country from Hong Kong when I was just an ankle biter. From one place with the Queen as the Head of State, to another place, also with the Queen as our Head of State (Hong Kong was still a British Colony when we left).
I started attending primary school with limited English. It was initially tough at the time, not understanding what everyone was saying – and the occasional name-calling. Nevertheless, youth was on my side. I soon acquired the language and other customs and values that went with the Australian culture and lifestyle. I was fascinated with the stories of the convicts and Captain Cook, of the gold rush era and Ned Kelly. I learnt how to sing the National Anthem of Australia and also other non-official anthems of Australia like ‘Waltzing Matilda’. This was back in the days when most primary schools still sung the National Anthem during their weekly parades.
Of course, it didn’t take long before I also learnt about the ANZAC legends and all the brave stories. Then I went to one of the parades on ANZAC Day. I still remember it as an awesome and enlightening experience. Watching the nation pay respect to our war veterans, many of them with their shiny medals and decorations, was very touching. Some of them were old and frail, while others were still strong and stood tall as they marched with their mates beside them. All of them respected and appreciated by everyone around them.
To be honest, at that time, I never would have thought that I would become a serving member, let alone marching on ANZAC Day in uniform, being cheered on by our fellow Australians (and possibly a number of tourists as well).
However, I am now a proud serving member of the Australian Defence Force. I will continue to serve for as long as I can. I always want to be ready when my country needs me.
Although I was not born in this country, I am like an adopted child. I might not have the extended roots or family linkages in Australia, but I feel that this country loves me and I love this country just as much.
Once I was catching a taxi from a RAAF air base to the airport. The taxi driver asked if I am in the Air Force. I told him yes. Then he asked me, ‘the Australian Air Force’? I said ‘yes’. I was not angry, I don’t think I was even upset. However, I really wanted to tell him (or ask him) – “Mate, I might not look like a typical Aussie and maybe I wasn’t even born here. But I can still be a patriot who simply loves this country enough that I want to serve right?”
Adam is just this guy, you know. A guy in his mid thirties heading towards forty. A mental health worker in his day job. A Royal Australian Air Force reservist doing completely different things in his other job. A proud Queenslander. And an Australian with Asian heritage.