What is patriotism?

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Rosie the Riveter was the quintessential symbol of patriotism during WW II
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What is patriotism? It is different things to different people

Are you patriotic? You can be a patriot and not be a flag-waving zealot.  Every person has his own way of expressing his beliefs and values. Just because Mister Jones doesn’t put out the flag on Memorial Day and Veterans’ Day and Mister Smith does, this doesn’t necessarily mean that one loves his country more than others. Some people like to outwardly display their affiliations and affinities (think bumper stickers) while others are quieter and less showy about it.

Patriotism means that you love your country and are emotionally attached to the country.  

Many of you may not think about patriotism until you are challenged when, for example, a war flares up and takes young men and women (your children) to battle in some far off foreign country. That is when your patriotism may be tested.

Patriotism, according to Jack Citrin, who is a professor of political science at the University of California at Berkeley, can be various things to various people. Wrapping yourself in a flag or saluting the flag or even burning a flag can be a sign of patriotism because patriotism is about protest and about the freedom to protest.

In the academic world, patriotism is broken into categories. There is the devout patriot who possesses unconditional loyalty to his country. This is also referred to as blind patriotism because those who are in this camp support their country regardless, the ideology being “My country, right or wrong.”

There is symbolic patriotism, which includes all of the rituals and symbols such as flags and singing patriotic songs. The third kind of patriotism is called critical or construction patriotism. Adherents to this philosophy believe that being critical, albeit constructively so, of a government is the ideal way to show that you love your country and want the best for it.

Not everyone agrees on what constitutes patriotism and this leads to disputes. However, the essence of true patriotism is that you are willing to listen to what the other side has to say. Disagreement is allowed and encouraged. A patriot is not only allowed to express dissent but is encouraged to do so in the United States. Not everyone is willing to do accept this aspect of patriotism. It’s their way or no way, which is not true patriotism.

Patriotism is truly shown when someone gives his life for his country and a willingness to sacrifice for the common good. An example of true patriotism is Senator John McCain, and former presidential candidate, who was captured while at war, taken as a prisoner and physically tortured while in captivity. Many men and women have endured such hardships and are the consummate example of patriotism at its best.

A patriot at his finest not only loves his country but his countrymen. He has respect for them and understands that not everyone thinks the same way. Having faith in people and in a country is patriotism.

Patriots were exemplified by the women who went to work in droves during World War II and kept the munitions plants going while their men were at war overseas. Patriots are those who grew victory gardens during World War II and those who were willing to sacrifice creature comforts because the men and women in uniform needed certain things, such as nylon, for parachutes. Women no longer had access to nylons and they survived and were even inventive. They drew a black line up the center of the back of their legs to emulate hosiery. Patriots put themselves second and their country first, particularly in times of need.

Patriots are also those who gather and protest. It is not unpatriotic to have a different point of view.

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