Literary Mama writing about the many faces of motherhood
For Your Journal: Writing Prompt

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Do you keep a journal - or wish you could get one started? Literary Mama wants to help.

Three times a month, I'll post a writing prompt. Open a notebook and write for 10 minutes. Don't worry about grammar or punctuation - just write. Then let the writing simmer and your mind wander for awhile.

And who knows? Maybe you'll discover a character for your next short story or a theme for a narrative essay. Or maybe you'll use the idea to create a special holiday card or photo album for someone in your family. However you decide to use your journal entry, I know you'll enjoy re-reading it months--and years--down the road.

Also: Every three months, I'll accept submissions and choose a few pieces to post for LM readers to enjoy.

When my kids were young, the parade was the highpoint of their Fourth of July celebration -- the candy, the horses, the Shriners and their go-karts, and of course, the fire trucks. After the parade, and dressed in as much red, white, and blue as they could find, they marched around the front yard, waving miniature flags and singing "Yankee Doodle" and "God Bless America" to the best of their ability. But it was the marches of John Phillip Sousa keeping the beat to the bursts of the evening's fireworks that transformed their sugar-induced euphoria into a patriotic experience.

"I can feel the beat in my heart and all the way down to my stomach," I remember my four-year-old yelling to me over the ka-booms. "It's hot, and it feels like it's going to jump out of me!"

Sousa marches have the same effect on me, so, today, I post a brief biography of "The March King" and encourage you to tap your foot to the beat.

John Phillip Sousa grew up around military band music. Beginning at the age of six, he studied voice, violin, piano, flute, cornet, baritone, trombone, and alto horn. His father played trombone in the United States Marine Band and enlisted him in the Marines at age 13 as an apprentice after he attempted to run away to join a circus band.

Sousa conducted the US Marine Band, also known as "The President's Own," from 1880-1892 and under four presidents (Hayes, Garfield, Cleveland, Arthur, and Harrison). From 1900-1910, he led The Sousa Band, a civilian concert band, on three European tours and one world tour. After World War I, he lobbied for music education and composers' rights.

All together, he wrote 136 marches, including Semper Fidelis, the Official March of the United States Marine Corps, and The Stars and Stripes Forever, the Official March of the United States. Listen to more John Phillip Sousa marches, performed by the United States Marine Band, here.

Journal Entry: What makes patriotism "hot" for you and your family? What makes your heart beat faster; what brings your hand to your heart and tears to your eyes?

Karna ConverseĀ is a freelance writer who’s written everything from technical documentation and price proposals to newsletter articles, devotionals, personal profiles and essays. Her essays have been published in a variety of regional and national publications, including The Christian Science Monitor, Notre Dame Magazine, the Cup of Comfort and Chicken Soup anthologies, Our Iowa, and on Iowa Public Radio. She and her husband are parents to three young adults. Karna is a former blog editor, senior editor, managing editor, and editor-in-chief of Literary Mama.

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Karna, I love the recent and past history you share with this "patriotic" journal prompt. The Independance Day holiday is the perfect time to consider what stirs our hearts and gives meaning to how we feel about our place in our world. I have chosen your post, For Your Journal: Writing Prompt: Patriotism, for the #JournalChat Pick of the Day on 6/30/11 for all things journaling on Twitter. I will post a link on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, my blog, Refresh with Dawn Herring, and my new Refresh Journal, which you can sign up for here: You're also welcome to join us for #JournalChat Live on Twitter on Thursdays at 4 p.m. CST/2 PST for all things journaling. My account is @JournalChat. Thanks again for a patriotic peek to jump start our journal writing. Be refreshed, Dawn Herring JournalWriter Freelance Host of #JournalChat Live and Links Edition
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