What Is Patriotism?

Flying or waving an American flag, pledging allegiance to the flag, singing the National Anthem, pinning an American flag to a lapel, wearing clothing or hats with flag motifs–all of these actions are supposed to show that people are patriotic Americans. But what if a person does not publicly take part in the flag waving, pledging, singing, and so forth? Can a person still be patriotic? Yes, of course, is my response.

Patriotism is something you feel: love for your country and the U.S. Constitution that protects our free exercise of religion, the freedom of speech and the press, and “the right of the people peaceably to assemble and to petition the government for a redress of grievances” as stated in the First Amendment. And the right of citizens of the United States to vote regardless of race, color, gender, culture, or religion. Being grateful for these freedoms and rights is what patriotism is about.

These days, questions about patriotism, are being led by the man in the White House who demands that people show that they are patriotic or be thrown out of the country. The story is familiar: Trump in a frenzy about NFL players kneeling before a game to protest police brutality against African Americans while the The Star Spangled Banner is broadcast. Trump would like to see those players kicked out of the United States. In his words: “You have to stand proudly for the national anthem or you shouldn’t be playing, you shouldn’t be there, maybe you shouldn’t be in the country.”

POTUS pressured the National Football League to ban players from the field if they dared to protest. And the NFL genuflected, declaring that players could protest behind closed doors, and not appear until the anthem’s last lines rang out: “And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave; O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!”

Land of the free? What kind of freedom is it to be denied public protest—at a football field yet? And what sense does it make anyway to sing the Star Spangled Banner at a sports event? This isn’t a political gathering or an occasion to honor Veterans returning from war—they are the REAL patriots and the courageous ones. Unfortunately, they can do little on the home front to stop a dictatorial POTUS–except like the rest of us, vets can  exercise their right to vote the autocrats out of office.

.American flag

The stars and stripes on a desk stand.

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