Here is what one of the smartest people who ever lived had to say about it:
"Heroism on command, senseless violence, and all the loathsome nonsense that goes by the name of patriotism -- how passionately I hate them!" - Albert Einstein
Are you saying that you never feel patriotic -- that there's nothing redeeming, in your mind, about patriotism?
I posted the Einstein quote just to add to Emilys' list of different views on patriotism.
You know of course that Einstein lived through a right-wing Conservative government in Hitlers Germany and so had the experience of blind patriotism like we have experienced under the current Bush/Cheney government and Conservative Republicans.
No, I would probably check in as superpatriotic. I grew up as the son of an Air Force Officer and lived on base most of my childhood, so it was psychologically conditioned into me from my birth in a military hospital. Martial music all the time, parades, total immersion really, in patriotism.
Civilians have no idea. No idea.
Military schools, military family escape drills from the base in case of attack, military aircraft always flying overhead, flags everywhere, everyone uniformed and saluting. All of it.
In seventh grade I was ordering Boy Scouts around marching in close order drill.
My heart beats to patriotic music so much that when rock and roll came around I had a hard time getting into it.
But when I was in jeopardy of needlessly dying in Vietman in the mid sixties I started learning about Conscious Objectors and so studied that history and studied what the people like Einstein thought about patriotism. I ended up suing the government all the way up to and including the Secretary of Defense under Nixon in order to get them to obey the law and recognize me as a Conscious Objector and give me an an Honorable Discharge from the US Army. I won. I had a Marine Infantry Captain friend come back from Vietnam and tell me he wished he had the courage I had. I had a Marine single LRP ( Long Range Patrol which means sniper) friend come back from Vietnam and tell me he wished he had my courage to face down my government.
So I have experienced the entire range of patriotism from being born into it and loving my government to being anti-patriotic and hating what my government did and working to change it. I have all of those behaviors inside me and available to use if I so chose. Nobody can outdo me in being patriotic and it would be damned hard to outdo me in being against blindly-obedient patriotism.
I don?t just wear some superficial flag pin like some kindergartner who needs reminding with a note pinned to his collar, or who feels like his duty is done by putting a yellow magnetic sticker on his Conservative Republican car.
I grew up in it, it?s in my bones, my blood, my heart. It is my hearts beat. And I know what it?s like to fight for the ideals of my countries founders instead of blindly following the orders of some current neo-fascist ?leaders? from the oil industries.
"...love of and devotion to one's country."
What is one's country? The physical boundries, the people, the government, or the constitution(if one has one)?
The physical boundries are meaningless without considering what they define. The people are diverse. Some are good some are downright evil. The government -'nuff said.
I feel patriotic whenever the ACLU wins a case against the state or national government. Forcing us to live by the principles upon which the country is founded is patriotic. Fighting just wars to defend those that wish to live under the constitution is patriotic.
Patriotism, at its best, emotionally ties together an arbitrary group of people who have nothing more in common than geography. These sorts of ties are essential to establishing common cause and a basis for rational government. At its worst, it gives people who are prone to feeling superior to other human beings one more reason to feel superior. People like that suck, but in their case, patriotism isn't the cause of their self-proclaimed superiority, it is a symptom.
I do feel 'patriotic' - I feel a sense of pride in being American. My sense of pride is founded on ideals that I hold to. I consider these ideals to be profoundly American. There are plenty of prominent Americans who I consider to be in embarrassing and flagrant violation of these ideals. I consider these ideals to be noble, and I hold them in my mind as the promise of what America has the potential to be.
These ideals include (for me):
1. The opportunity for citizens to rise from relative obscurity to positions of great importance in our government and communities.
2. The emphasis on freedom of expression, and the freedom to follow your dreams as long as no one gets hurt, or, at the very least, the only person you hurt is yourself.
3. A built-in voice given to the people (voting) and a system that promotes the citizenry being involved in the government. There are all sorts of organizations citizens can take part in to add their voice to the decisions that governments make.
I expect that these are not the things that everyone values in America. I am aware, too, that although these ideals have been achieved to some extent, there are times and places where we have fallen pathetically short. Everything - EVERYTHING - in our society, in every society world wide, is run by people, and people constantly mess up. There will never be a perfect system. The best you can do is have a system that is structured on, and strives for, noble goals.
We have a system of government that is designed to keep itself steered toward these ideals, despite the selfish interests of any one individual. This system has been remarkably robust, and is worth defending, both at home and abroad.
America is not unique in its ability to provide essential freedom and a feeling of relative safety and fairness to its citizens, but the countries in the world who provide these essentials of stable society are in the minority. I expect this to be a somewhat controversial comment, because there are a lot of people who feel, for one reason or another, that we don't have essential freedoms, and that American society is neither safe nor fair. I do not mean to claim that the American reality is perfect, but the measure of freedom, safety, and fairness is relative. If we compare our system to the systems of all other governments worldwide, we'll find that our system currently delivers more opportunities to more people of varying backgrounds than most (not all, but most) other governments around the world. Considering what a large and diverse country America is, it is amazing that things are as stable as they are domestically.
American patriotism, to me, is a courageous stand for the 'life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness' of every individual. We started with a system that is founded on these ideals, so I believe we have a better chance of some day getting it right than almost any other country on the planet.
I feel love of my country when it lives up to its ideals.
Unfortunately, nowadays I have to settle for its failing short of its ideals less badly. Recently, I had that feeling when the Sup. Ct. held something approximating that people cannot be put into a black hole, losing all remedy and therefore anything approaching rights.
The mere mention of the word patriotism makes my stomach uneasy. Here's an essay that starts to approach my feelings about it.
WHAT is patriotism? Is it love of one's birthplace, the place of childhood's recollections and hopes, dreams and aspirations? Is it the place where, in childlike naivety, we would watch the fleeting clouds, and wonder why we, too, could not run so swiftly? The place where we would count the milliard glittering stars, terror-stricken lest each one "an eye should be," piercing the very depths of our little souls? Is it the place where we would listen to the music of the birds, and long to have wings to fly, even as they, to distant lands? Or the place where we would sit at mother's knee, enraptured by wonderful tales of great deeds and conquests? In short, is it love for the spot, every inch representing dear and precious recollections of a happy, joyous, and playful childhood?
If that were patriotism, few American men of today could be called upon to be patriotic, since the place of play has been turned into factory, mill, and mine, while deafening sounds of machinery have replaced the music of the birds. Nor can we longer hear the tales of great deeds, for the stories our mothers tell today are but those of sorrow, tears, and grief.
Patriotism. Good topic for the times.
The first New Year's Eve after 9-11, I, along with hundreds of others, attended the annual New Year's concert at Portland's Trinity Episcopal Church. I was drawn, more than in previous years, to that lovely event for its sense of community . . . for the feeling of transcendence that comes with celebrating, and sometimes crying for, humanity. And I recall that, as we sang America, the Beautiful, many of us choked back tears?or shed them. That moment of sharing brought to mind not only the agony of those poor victims, beyond help now, but the state of our country and its place in the world community. I don't think I had ever felt more patriotic. Still, in that spirit, I had never felt more strongly that America needed to change to survive in a tough, new century few had envisioned.
If you love your country, and I do love the United States of America, you want to be free to contribute to its evolution in a changing world. So, when I think of patriots, I see the wonderful mix of American pioneers whose efforts make us all a little better, and our path a little straighter, through their contributions?whether they be in the battlefield, or in Congress, on a picket line. I see those who dare to stand alone, often with severe consequences these days, to make a difference.
This talk of what patriotism means brings to mind a high school friend who put her graduation in jeopardy by refusing to recite the Pledge of Allegiance at her graduation ceremony. She was not unpatriotic, but, rather, an atheist who felt that as an American she had the right not to utter the words, "under God" when she pledged her loyalty as an American citizen. I got the irony, even then. What is better than to live in a country where its citizens may criticize the status quo and attempt positive change? And what is sadder than restricting the creative and talented and brave among us from contributing to their country's development? Pretty sad. Maybe even unpatriotic.
The time I felt most patriotic was when watching the opening ceremonies for the Olympics. Many countries had competitors that looked alike--similar build, skin color, etc. The US group looked so diverse, really a sort of motley group, with different skin colors, facial features, etc. It really exemplified the best of the US with all of our diversity and made me proud of our country.
Many of those diverse looking US athletes were brought to the US and given citizenship because they were the best athletes in their native countries and the US can afford to pay for the best in the world!
First and foremost, a patriot is a citizen. A patriot is a citizen that is informed and engaged in his or her community. A patriot knows how the state and local and national budget for government are developed, understands, where money comes from, is in contact regularly with goverment representatives and community leaders. A patriot pays his or her taxes and is proud to do that. A patriot contributes to community discussions and values all opinions. A patriot is an informed voter and citizen. A patriot understands the bill of rights and the constitution. And a patriot values not only the individual pursuit of life, liberty and happiness but she or he cares for the plight of children, the poor, the elderly, the disabled and those less fortunate by contributing time and resources to supporting these. And a patriot values and would defend my right to say these things. In all of these ways - a citizen is a patriot. Thanks for asking.
I am one of five boys that entered the military in 1966. My brothers and I grew up schooled by ?silent generation?, our father and uncles that served with distinction during World War II. They rightly believed that they had a duty to serve and this concept was highly patriotic. This lesson was embraced by the five of us as we accepted the standpoint of the government that we had a duty to serve during the Vietnam conflict, our generation?s war. We expressed our patriotism by enlisting in the military to serve our country. It was, after all, our duty. We slowly gained an understanding that the highest levels of government lied to us and the entire fiasco taught us another lesson: question authority. This is the legacy that we passed on to our children, Generation X and the Millennial generation. Duty to serve is still a noble concept, but the faith that we lost in our government is not so easily reclaimed. As aging baby boomers, we seek leadership that will regain our trust and define patriotism in such a way that all citizens will easily embrace a duty to serve this great nation in a variety of ways.
A couple of things belong in this version of Emilies list:
Search for the words to the Australian song Waltzing Matilda.
Search about The Christmas Truce of World War 1.
Search out ?War is a Racket? By Major General Smedly D. Butler, USMC retired. Here is one site I found with it:
Here is some information about that great warrior:
Search out Mark Twains ?The War Prayer?
Search out what happened in The Charge of The Light Brigade.
One of the great patriots of our current time is Lt Erin Watada, a soldier who refused to obey an illegal order to commit a War Crime.
He is the only soldier who has lived up to the US Army recruiters slogan ?Army Of One?. He swore to uphold and defend our Constitution and is currently being punished by being courtmartialed for doing just what the US requires its Officers to swear to do.
I was most proud to be an American when we landed on the moon. Even as a kid I realized that this was a positive use of our technology that I could be proud of. I was least proud when the Bush administration decided that torture, long prohibited in this country and throughput the world, would part of our foreign policy strategy.
I am proudest to be an American when our nation stands up for what is right in the world. This standing up does not usually entail military action. Our history during the Presidency of Franklin Roosevelt and at the end of WWII holds much for each of us to take pride in. At the end of WWII, we took care of our veterans with programs that helped them get college educations and purchase homes. We stood tall on the international scene in helping to rebuild the nations that had fought against us.
I served in the U.S. Air Force from 1968-1972 and found being part of a mighty military machine somewhat moving, especially when marching and chanting while in basic training. Our fighter aircraft were impressive machines and I felt it a privilege to work on them.
Today I try to avoid being nationalistic, but am open to feeling patriotic when our nation works as a force for good in the world. This does not include acting as a bully in the world. It includes: standing up for human rights, for limiting nuclear weapons, for limiting our own energy consumption, feeding the hungry, caring for the sick and setting an example for the world in behaving as a civilized nation.
It is our Constitution and Bill of Rights that I am really proud of. The sad irony is that some of our leaders, who most love to wrap themselves in the flag, seem to have no appreciation for the ideals that these precious documents stand for. They seem to consider the flag to be a Holy Relic, but have no respect for the separation of powers mandated by our Constitution. Human rights get trampled on in the name of security. If we become like those who wish us harm, what is it we are protecting?
My feelings about being an American citizen were changed when I watched my coworker from South Korea go through applying for citizenship and then making her pledge at a public ceremony.
I grew up in England but with an American mother, so I had US citizenship and took it for granted. Coming here was just a matter of buying a plane ticket and finding a job. I still felt 'English' culturally and was uncomfortable with any expression of patriotism.
But when I encouraged my coworker to work for her US citizenship, and watched her pledge to renounce other allegiances where I had not, I was forced to decide whether I really felt American or not. I realized that citizenship could transcended culture and speak to ideals of freedom, justice and the rule of law. That we sadly fail on those goals more often than we should hasn't changed my sense of patriotism that being American means for me to believe in these principles above any particular culture, religion, race or other 'unifying' identity.
I thank God I was born an American. I have travelled to 14 different countries in Europe and Asia. I served 4 years in the U.S. Marine Corps of which 1.5 years was in a combat zone. I have so many times I feel patriotic.
Once while visiting East Germany for several weeks I was attending a theatre in East Berlin. During intermission I encountered a group of American Army Officers in uniform. Although I was having a good time I felt such a strong sense of pride I almost cried.
At the end of the PBS News Hour they often show the names and pictures of servicemen killed in combat. I feel very patriotic and often cry from sorrow.
I feel least patriotic when I witness large groups of Americans behaving in ways which demonstrate an intolerance for people based on their race, ethnic origin, political and/or religious beliefs. When Americans belittle the founding principles upon which America stands. When I think about the spinless, self serving members of Congress. When large groups of Americans belittle their military, service in the military, and government service; and yet demands the government take care of them. When a tourist is harmed or mistreated in any way. When an American decries patriotism, refuses to stand for the flag, and has no understanding, awarenessness, or respect for the reason we celebrate Memorial Day other than a day off.
I try to stay away from "Patriotism". I believe that patriotism is a form of tribalism, which only leads to war, conflict and comparing yourself (as a country) to others. George Carlin was amazing when he said (to paraphrase) "God bless America?! Why? Because we have more money? Because he likes our national anthem? Because we have 18 delicious flavors of Rice-a-Roni?" I think I am touched by what people do in our country... I am touched by the generosity of groups and people (worldwide). The closest I've felt to patriotism is having my eyes tear up as I waved goodbye to my son's youth group as they headed to Honduras to repair a school building and build latrines for a village.
Patriotism means as much to me as does religion - absolutely nothing. I just can't get excited about it. The only good thing you can say about patriotism is that you get a one day holiday from work every year. Any excuse for a day off work is OK by me.
I will quote from the movie "The Rock". Shaun Connery says "Patriotism is a virtue of the vicious.", by Oscar Wilde.
I agree with this characterization. Too often the Nationalistic view in search of revenge justifies the act by wrapping it in patriotism. War is nothing more than a means of human sacrifice to appease a god of greed, power and violence who's religion is Politics.
It's too bad we don't have civics courses anymore in high school. They seem to have been replaced by 'cynics' courses, where it's cool to dismiss things after only superficial consideration.
Grand statements like 'Patriotism is bad', 'Patriotism is good', 'Religion is bad', 'Religion is good', 'Government is bad', or 'Government is good' don't really teach us anything about a person's views on patriotism, religion, or government. Such statements certainly don't teach us anything about the topics themselves. What we do learn about from such statements is the speaker's inability or unwillingness to understand the complexities and proven historical importance of these topics.
"It's too bad we don't have civics courses anymore in high school."
Yep, we have lost an awful lot by letting Conservatives cut our school funding.
Their cutting of Physical Education, PE, has contributed greatly to the obesity epidemic, and now instead of developing American born kids into Olympic athletes, we have our corporations bringing in lots of foreign born athletes, giving them US Citizenship and putting US Olympic uniforms on them.
Conservatism has cost us a lot.
To me patriotism means having pride in one's identity an American.
The only times in my life I can recall feeling anything close to patriotic is when we landed on the moon in 1969 and for a few days following 911 (but that vanished when Bush said, "You're either with us or you're with the terrorists", a decidedly UN-American statement).
I'm sending some remarks about patriotism as an attachment.
I never feel patriotic. I think it's something we inherited from British monarchy. Early Americans had a recent history of ruler worship, and the founding fathers of this country exploited it by transfering the feelings of blind love and devotion to this red white and blue abstraction.
There is nothing new or special about American patriotism. Whether it's a force of good or evil, I think the overwhelming majority of the above posts have it right. What more can I say?
I was going to post a long essay on this, but I think its best to just say I feel most patriotic when I see people making sacrifices for other people. It can be a man or woman in uniform headed out to face an uncertain future or a teacher going out of their way to help some kid who has lost confidence in his or her own worth. It may be a soot covered fireman or a careworn crisis pregnancy center volunteer, a person giving blood or a trucker pulling over to help at an accident scene. It includes the kindly voice of the person serving food at the Rescue Mission and the neighbor lady who wants all the kids to have a safe haven.
It is when I recognize that one or more of us have set aside our selfishness to care about others that I am most proud to be a citizen.
ourth of July is always a weird day for me. I did not grow up in a military family but I grew up in a military and government town during the 70s and 80s. Patriotism was everywhere. My family was patriotic without being superpatriotic. However, as I got older and saw more of the world I came to understand the meaning of patriotism in that special way that blacks have to come to terms with in America. I learned my lessons about patriotism from my father, a man who fought in WWII, was awarded a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star and when he came home, was not able to cast a vote until Voting Rights Act of 1964 passed. At some point during my military service, which was entirely in peacetime, I began to understand what it meant to love America. It was something much deeper and more profound than the ?America, love it or leave it? jingoism that so often passes for patriotism.
In my mind, there are three things I love about America; the People, the Constitution and the Land. We are a People of no ethnicity, no race, no religion. Barack Obama is as American a name as John Brown. I with my brown skin and dreadlocks look as much an American as my partner with her red hair and Irish complexion. We are a People not because of where we were born. Madeline Albright is as American as Bill Clinton. We are a People because we subscribe to an Idea. That Idea, really a suite of memes, is codified in our Constitution and, just as importantly, the myths we have about that document and about the Founding Generation. It involves freedom of speech, religion and conscience. These require a certain level of tolerance be developed, something America has not always had a shining track record on. Yet, organically, stumbling along and getting it really wrong sometimes, we seem to move forward. We are the optimistic teenagers of the world. We truly believe that the world can be made a better place and for the most part we want to do things so that it becomes one. We behave, when we decide to, as if the word ?impossible? were nothing more than synonym for ?this will be challenging?.
The Constitution is that which we should all be most proud of. Flawed as it is, it leaves open the possibility of changing it. It?s genius, though, is that it lays out a broad outline of what our government can and cannot do. It hamstrings the would-be tyrant. Yet, it can only do that effectively if we the People do our job and this creates a tension (or should) between the citizen and her country. I must trust, at some level, that people of goodwill and conscience who understand their Constitutional role and limitations run my government. I must, at the same time, be watchful for signs that they are breaching that trust and behaving in a manner beyond what their mandate is. This tension must be there for we are the ultimate firewall of our democratic republic. Ultimately, we elect these people. In the final analysis, we are the ones who send politicians to do our bidding and I believe that the founders were relying on the American people to be active citizens informed about their nation and its policies.
Then there is the land. I?ve been on numerous cross-country road trips, mostly when I was a child and teenager and it gave me a sense of what an amazingly beautiful place America is. I?ve spent significant time on the West Coast and the Deep South, each having their own unique beauties. Anywhere you are in America, you can find someplace relatively close that will stop you in your tracks in awe, if you are at all amenable to awe. Watching the sun disappear into the Pacific Ocean from Ocean Beach in San Francisco, or watching it break over Mount Hood is a treat and a treasure. I recently drove from Portland to Utah and back to meet my partner?s family. I hadn?t been through Idaho in over 20 years and had never been through northern Utah. There were stretches of I-84 that, if not for the road, there would be nothing but beautiful desolation. Scrub and dirt set against a backdrop of snow-covered mountains.. I am not saying that only in America can you get sights such as those. There are other places with sights as magnificent as those here. But they are not this land.
America is lovable for what her people strive to be, what they try to make the government be with the Constitution as their guide and the land that sustains them in their endeavor. I hope that in this discussion that we are having nationally, we can begin to truly grasp that one form of love of America is that which you would have with a long and intimate friend, where you see their flaws, call them out on those flaws when they are being destructive to self or others and love them all the more for the struggle to get beyond those flaws. That?s how I love America.
In order not to lead to the excesses of nationalism, patriotism-- which I would define as a love for and the will to serve the best interests of one's country-- must be in balance with other loyalties. As a member of the Baha'i Faith, I recognize that in this day and age, one of the most important of those other loyalties is the recognition that mankind is one, and the earth is one country. All of our problems, worldwide, are becoming entangled with one another, and it would seem that a central element of any solution must be the unity of the human race. Striving toward that goal is, in my estimation, a supremely patriotic act.
There's way too much chest pounding in this country that masquerades as patriotism. The best way I can be patriotic is to critical of our country in these disastrous times. Our highway infrastructure is collapsing, we're continuing to wage war, we refuse to charge our detainees in Guantanamo, 48 million people don't have health insurance, while the wealthy get wealthier. There is really quite nothing to be proud of, but much to patriotic if we may eventually put our country back on track. We need our own declaration of independence against the current tyrants in the White House.
I think the only viable form of patriotism is one that recognizes our mutual universality. Patriotism to planet earth, first and foremost.
On this and every 4th of July, I take a few minutes to read the Declaration of Independence, and think about the courage of those people who signed it.
In my mind each signer demonstrated true patriotism by speaking truth-to-power; so I feel most patriotic when I too speak truth-to-power.
In other words, I feel I?m most patriotic when I act to help my nation awake to it?s problems and guide it to becoming an even greater nation.
I can appreciate people's strong feelings about the better qualities of our country (somewhat free speech, equality for some, opportunities if you have the cash in your area) but I don't understand why our July 4th celebration of patriotism is a display of drunken pyrotechnics. What does this say about us when someone from Germany or Japan walks through downtown Portland and sees us acting this way because we're proud of our country?
There's more depth to the subject, I realize, but I just can't get past the feelings of apprehension and bitterness when thinking about celebrating our country with a can of PBR and a bottle rocket.
In this day and age Patriotism seems to be the last refuge of scoundrels, as Samuel Johnson said. It has been waved about by our current administration fervently. How does our patriotism differ from patriotism in other countries? Am I an American because I was born here? If I'm an illegal immigrant can I be patriotic?
The root of the word patriotism is father and I live in a democratic-republic, not a fatherland. I love my USA but it is not my father.
I don?t grovel to some authoritarian father figure leader who demands obedience, I respect leaders who treat me as their equal in American citizenship and as a human being.
American patriotism too often strikes me as very nationalistic. The 19th century is behind us and we live in an interconnected, interdependent world where we benefit from one anothers strengths and learn from our mistakes. Modern patriotism includes a degree of humility and humblines. Without it it is simply a childish, blind shivinism.
The President in a speach today has referred to the Greatest Nation on Earth. Great, which one is that? What data support this? We are one on many great nations on this planet, we are proud of it, we love, and serve it but we are not above everyone else.
Every fourth of July I think about the Declaration of Independence and the distance between the Eastern seaboard and the king of England, and I think about the distance between where I live and the country?s seat of power. Striking similarities.
I think I trouble, too, telling the difference between Patriotism and Nationalism.
The entire discussion has been hypocritical. Where is there a single monument or even ceremonial event to honor the true patriots of this country during the Vietnam War and its aftermath, namely the Vietnam War protesters? If patriotism is defined by the ideals outlined in the Declaration and Constitution, then it is the standing up to oppressive government and tyranny, that is true patriotism. The baby boomer generation that grew up mulling over the lessons of WWII and the struggle against fascism and Nazism, namely that one must not follow orders blindly and that there is a higher moral compass than militarization and blind nationalism, spawned the anti-war movement. The leaders of the antiwar movement in the US have never been honored or commemorated and this, more than anything, exposes the hypocracy of the July 4th Holiday and it all becomes an empty charade of fireworks and bar-b-que-s full of sound and fury but signifying nothing.
one of those leaders
We recently visited the Alabama State Capitol in Montgomery. Our guide turned out to be the Alabama State Historian, a retired Air Force Officer who had flown many missions over Viet Nam. He was so obviously proud of his state and his country. He is also a Black man who at the age of 19 had walked with Martin Luther King from Selma to Montgomery. As he pointed out, with equal pride, the star on the steps of the Capitol where Jefferson Davis had stood, and the Dexter Street Baptist Church just down the street, where King had preached, I was struck by his patriotism. Our quest for liberty is on-going, and this man was as much of a patriot when he marched with King as when he served in the Air Force.
The most I've ever felt patriotic is reading. Authors such as Fitzgerald, Kerouac, Salinger, Ginsberg, Steinbeck, Faulkner (and many many more), have swelled feelings of passion for this country in me that nothing else has come close to. They write about America, in all of its sordid glory, in a way that is honest and revelatory. Reading books by these authors, I see America not merely as the screwed up political and economic race to the top which, in another light, make me a not-very-patriotic person, but as my home: stunning, crazy, monstrous, brazen and truly beautiful in its ugliness. As far as I'm concerned, politics and pride and offices and democracy have nothing to do with my love of this country (which, among my peers, is often hard to articulate). The reason I have a flag on my wall is not because I love these things; it is because here, I have the right NOT to love these things, and I can read and write and howl about it all I want.
RE: Ms. Seinfeld's (sp?) reaction to the 9/11 attack - interesting that she felt her first surge of patriotism while "...watching the towers burn..." - almost immediately the media was siting terrorism, clearly even before it could be honestly learned what really happened - sounds pre-scripted, doesn't it? Ultimately, the New-Pearl-Harbor effect that the Project for a New American Century had called for was achieved. Unfortunately, this is the way "patriotism" is too often used. This sort of thing isn't unique to the USA.
I am responding to the question: When do I feel patriotic?
Upon thinking about this question I realize my feelings about Patriotism are mixed up with Citizenship. I feel patriotic when I vote; when I read the local newspaper, the LaGrande Observer. I feel patriotic when I visit with my neighbors and buy products from locally owned stores. I am a patriot when I support my Union brothers and sisters.
I finished 20+ years in the military and have some ideas about what is not patriotic. Lapel pins and magnetic flags do make you a patriot to me.
Public speeches and letters to the editor about what someone else does or does not do are not proof of patriotism; yours or theirs.
By your works you are known. mac
I didn't get to hear all of the program on patriotism, but I think most people's comments were expressions of pride or of appreciation of the amazing gift we've enjoyed by the quirk of fate that allowed us to be born in this country at this time. (I shudder to think of the short, painful lives our ancestors endured just a few generations ago!) Reflecting on your topic of the day it occurred to me that there is another, darker reaction that I can perhaps qualify as a form of patriotism: It is my deep sense of shame.
As a young man, I had the great good fortune to travel in Europe and elsewhere, and everywhere I went, people were happy to meet me, and always curious about America. Many of them shared with me the vision of a shining city on a hill, a beacon of liberty, calling to the poor, huddled masses, and I had a sense of pride, strength and also responsibility that went along with how lucky I felt to come from such a special place.
Today, that pride has been replaced with shame. I have not ventured beyond our borders, now, for many years. I have contacted friends abroad with messages of apology, with assurances that those in power today do not reflect the America that I once knew. I have felt the need to apologize for the scandals, atrocities, incompetence, stupidity, arrogance and, it so pains me to say, evil that has poured forth from those in power here, with names such as Abu Graib, Guantanamo, and worst of all, Bush.
Immediately after 9/11 I remember how very humbled and proud I felt to hear the expressions of support and love that poured out from people all over the world. I wept on seeing news footage the Queen of England singing the Star Spangled Banner at St. Paul's Cathedral, and cried openly to read the headline in the French newspaper, "We Are All New Yorkers."
Today I cry openly at all the goodwill squandered by our leaders. I weep at their betrayal of our former allies by their ignorance, arrogance and downright stupidity.
The greatest expression of patriotism I feel today is the tremendous sense of shame I feel for the loss of the America I knew in my youth. An America that I fear I may not live to see again.
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