Bowra: Defining Patriotism

Patriotism is something that most Americans pride themselves in.  Everywhere, you see the “Proud to be American” signs and stickers, you see flags waving high and proud.  Most people take this for granted, either as something they assume they already have or something they do not need to focus too much on having.  One person not caring enough won’t make too much of a difference, will it?

It will.  Every person who is a American citizen should love this country and the things it stands for.  They should loudly say that they are a proud American.  Too many people today are just assuming that by living here, they are being patriotic as they should be.  This is just not enough.  I’m not saying to go out to an open field and scream it at the top of your lungs (although, maybe that would get something started!).  I’m saying that we need to show the other nations in the world that we are America.  There is so much more to those words than, I think, anyone can fully realize.

The word “patriotism” means devoted love, support, and defense of one’s country.  “Patriot” means a person who loves, supports, and defends his or her country and its interests with devotion.  Notice that in both descriptions, the word devotion is key.  We must be devoted to this country in order to call ourselves proud, patriotic Americans.  I think that we as a nation are, sadly, losing sight of this goal.  The goal to keep patriotism going strong and teach it to the generations to come.  Without patriotism, America is nothing more than another place on the map.  The reason that we are what we are today is because of faith, hard work, and patriotic hearts.

Most people who want to rebuild this nation, give the economy a “jolt” (to quote President Obama), recognize that we need the first two.  The third is something commonly overlooked.  If we are just taking care of America for the sake of doing it, nothing will truly change.  It takes hearts and minds fully devoted to this country in order to make a difference. 
The fact that our current president does not have this attitude is not helping us teach others to.  When our nation’s leader, who should be a walking example of that patriotic spirit, goes to other nations and apologizes for America– just for being America– we do not have the example we should.  This leaves the responsibility to true, die-hard patriots who want to make a difference.

Anyone can truly make a difference and influence others if they are willing to take that responsibility.  The word influence is taken from the Latin word, influenza, which is what we call the flu.  Just as the flu spreads quickly from person to person, your influence on someone will cause them to influence someone else, causing a chain reaction.  Everyone has influence on someone.  Right now, we need more influences for loving this country.  America is the greatest nation on earth.  We are the only true free nation in the modern world.  Most nations have to have walls and fences to keep people in; we have to have them to keep people out!  There are that many people longing for the opportunity to live in a free nation.  Too many of the people who do live here take that for granted, or do not recognize how special that privilege truly is. 

This weekend would be a perfect opportunity to start this.  The tenth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks are a time that every American will be united together once again.  All we would have to do is continue it through the weekend and pass it on to others. 

It just seems like too many people are losing faith in the American dream.  They are losing the feeling of patriotism and love for their country they once had, whether it be through something they have seen, heard, or done.  Maybe it is nothing they can put a finger on, but they know they are losing the faith they once had in America and its leaders. 

Patriotism does come by who is in the White House, what the stock market is doing, or how much money you have.  Among other things, it comes through seeing an American flag waving high above a building.  Through seeing the Statue of Liberty sitting on Liberty Island.  It comes through seeing our men and women in uniform, fighting for our freedom.  It comes through hearing the Pledge of Allegiance and our national anthem.  With those things, patriotism is bound to swell up in any true American’s heart.


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