As Easter approaches, those of the Christian faith, by and large the largest religious faith in America, think about what it means to be resurrected. But there is another, more secular meaning to the word. Used outside religion the word is defined as "to bring back into use, practice, or reestablish something that has been lost."
Thanks to the heartfelt insight and patriotism of the Lani Kai Resort and its management and staff, here on Fort Myers Beach, this term has taken on a life of its own. This year, young people visiting our Beach for Spring Break or just to enjoy our hospitality, sun and friendly island folks will be treated to a gift designed to resurrect their pride in the USA.
It all started when "Mr. C" (a man who prefers to keep his actions out of the limelight) noticed a guest at the Lani Kai was wearing a shirt emblazoned with the words - America the Beautiful.
"It made me feel a genuine love for our country and I also appreciated the young man who was wearing it so well," said Mr. C.
"I walked over, shook his hand, bought him a drink and thanked him for being so obviously proud of his country I also felt a deep desire, then and there, to help other guests at the hotel display their affection for our beautiful nation," he elaborated with conviction.
So after the hotel staff put their heads together, the Lani Kai commissioned their artist, Jason Fleenor of Brand 1 Ink out of Cape Coral, to put "God Bless America" on high quality T'shirts and give them away free to all hotel guests during this year's Spring Break. Staff members, immensely proud of this generous action, also decided to wear the T-shirt themselves during the month.
We visited Caity Simón, partner with "Dodo" in the Henna Shoppe. (Dodo is also the owner of the Beach's well-known Dodo's Gift Shop located in the thoroughfare underneath the Lani Kai, where as an added bonus for Hotel Guests, anyone who desired to personalize their shirt could stop by the shop and get their school or other distinctive, meaningful name or phrase printed on the T's also at no cost.)
Caity is an artist who does henna tattoos, creative artword and body painting. She also customizes T's, including the patriotic ones that the Resort is giving guests.
"Its really nice to meet so many great students and guests. They get really excited about having their T's customized and many of them have also expressed a love for their country - exactly what we hoped would happen. I'm happy to be part of such a cool effort to enhance pride in America," said the affable Caity.
Larry, the General Manager of the Lani Kai agreed.
"We have thousands of guests here for Spring Break during the month of March through the first half of April and these students really show appreciation for getting a T-shirt and personalization just for them," he told the Sun Bay Paper.
The Lani Kai has always been one of the more self-effacing enterprises on Fort Myers Beach. During my 12 years publishing both the Island Sand Paper and the Sun Bay Paper, I've had the opportunity to get to know "Mr. C" the owner and some of his staff, particularly management, quite well. They always insist on remaining out of the limelight. Heck, I'll probably get a call wanting to know why I even mentioned Mr. C or Larry. I'll take the call and tell them "I left out your full names." They'll most likely chuckle in a good natured way, share a personal moment with me and move on.
I'll willingly take the heat this time though because I've always left them out. But this time it's different for me. As a Vietnam era Veteran of the U.S. Army - one who volunteered, not drafted - I have a great deal of pride in my country I AM a Patriot. And I appreciate anyone else who is as well.
Far too often today disparaging remarks are being made about the USA It's almost as if some hate the very land of their birth.
It pains me when I remember those who have fallen to insure the freedoms we enjoy. By traveling extensively to other nations, I've come to more deeply respect those freedoms because they're absent in many places around the planet.
Once visiting a VA Hospital, I saw a sign that read: "The price of freedom is visible here."
How true that is.
Because of this The Sun Bay Paper and myself personally want to express our thanks to the Lani Kai for helping young people to remember what the Land of the Free and Home of the Brave really means.
If getting a patriotic T-shirt causes a single young person to reflect more deeply on the sacrifices made by those who went before them - if this simple gift brings a resurrected sense of belonging to the greatest, most generous nation on Earth - if it causes one guest at the Lani Kai to deepen their love for our country - then I say give the shirts out every year.
I know I'll be wearing mine with pride.
Article by Carl Conley. Emeritus Editor , Juris Doctorate:
Founder and Editor in Chief of
The Island Sand Paper 1999-2010
and later, Founder and Publisher of
The Sun Bay Paper 2015-2016