When I ask about the idea of patriotism, people seem to fall into one of two camps. There are those that jump up waving the flag, proud of who we are as a nation. They, unashamed and unabashed, are quick to say that they love their country and make no apologies for it. How anyone could not be a cheering patriot is beyond their comprehension.
On the other hand, there are those that react as if a preacher had just asked about their religious beliefs. They cringe slightly uncomfortably, mumble something and try to change the subject - or they launch into an angry diatribe about how screwed up the country is! No way, in their opinion, could they ever be a patriot.
I offer that we are all patriots - but some do not recognize it as readily as others.
Quite simply, patriotism is loving and caring for your country. How can you not love the country of your adoption or birth? It is as easy and natural as loving your own parents or children.
As a parent, I love my children - period. I may not always love what they say or support what they do - but I love them. I can argue with them, I can tell them they are ruining their lives, I can be ashamed or proud - but I love them just the same.
I grew up during the 60’s when patriotism seemed to go out of style for those that disagreed with governmental policies. Dissenters were told, “America - Love it or Leave it” by bumper stickers of that era. I honestly saw this printed on a flag just two days ago while walking down the road. Hasn't it always really meant “Support the United States governmental policy or get out!" Therefore, I have never agreed with those words for my definition of patriotism.
You can be patriotic and:
Never wave a flag.
Never sing a patriotic song.
Never stand and recite the Pledge of Allegiance.
You can be patriotic and:
Disagree with national policy.
Never serve in the military.
Protest wrongs trying to make things right.
This country was build on dissent and dissenters. It is all there, just read the history.
Yes, it is great to wave the flag. It is an honor to serve in the armed forces. I still enjoy covering my heart during the Star Spangled Banner. Yet as I walk across this country, I wish to hear differing political views. How boring things would be if but one flavor was offered. I value differences. I want to hear from you - anyone - just have an opinion!
I believe the real enemy to our country is not “out there” but rather right here at home - apathy. An apathy caused by feelings of disassociation and futility shared by too many Americans today. This country was founded on civic participation and we, as citizens, must continue to engage or the system will no longer serve us. We cannot afford to abandon our civic responsibilities. I believe that if each does but a small part, great things can happen.
Beware of those who grab the flag as if it were their own. No one group holds a monopoly on patriotism. Patriotism is not defined by cheering loudly, waving a bigger flag, or singing praise with the highest notes. It is simply loving your country and participating with others to help move this great nation forward.
"Has anyone seen my flag?"