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Patriotism: A Historical Perspective

Joined: 7/20/2013
Posts: 2

Googling ‘patriotism’ gives one this definition: ‘A love of country and willingness to sacrifice for it’. Such a definition is a broad one and brings us to the question ‘What does it mean to love your country?’. Does this mean anyone who loves their country is a patriot?

In history, there have been many people who have been considered patriots, those willing to lay their lives for, to paraphrase Benedict Anderson, the notion of their ‘imagined community’. However, despite their common devotion to their countries, nowadays we do not consider Twentieth-Century dictator Adolf Hitler a patriot alongside other political leaders like Theodore Roosevelt and Winston Churchill. Hitler saw himself a patriot, a Wagnerian hero to his people. He spoke greatly of his love of Germany and indeed the strength of his nationalist feelings won the support of many Germans. Yet, he had no qualms about sending Germany on the road to war - certain death for soldiers and civilians. His racist ideas started the Holocaust, a horrific genocide. The World War he provoked cost the lives of six million Germans. Why we do not consider him a patriot is because he had divorced his love for the country (the ‘community’) with the love of all its people (those inside the ‘community’).

Hence, I believe that when attempting to determine if someone is a patriot, their attitudes towards country and people must both be considered. Be it Snowden’s whistle-blowing or the deployment of soldiers, we must first understand their motives. A serviceman, who fights with the genuine belief that what he does is for the good of his countrymen, is far more patriotic than one who does so for his own individualistic interests.

I could not be more proud of the history of my country, Singapore. If all the world’s a stage, Singapore was centre-stage for so many men and women from the Nineteenth Century (and before) right until today. Its geographical location brought people of a myriad ethnic groups, sailing down on tradewinds, to our island. Our history is the story of how these people built a bustling port-city in two centuries. It is the story of how, in two decades, these people united in solidarity to gain independence at long last. It is the story of how, in half a century, we toiled to become one of the more-developed countries in the region. It is this story, and how until today it is still the case, that I find cause for great patriotism in the Singaporean ability to overcome intrinsic differences. We may not be of the same religion, nor ethnicity, but we are one Singapore. When challenges present themselves to our nation, in the form of economic crises or social issues, our citizens rise up to the occasion time and again to defend each other. A little red dot on the world map we may be, but our country and our people have proven unwaveringly resilient in unity, such that I will resoundingly proclaim: I love Singapore!
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Comment by KristenH16

Joined: 7/21/2013
Posts: 4
I just had to say something about your point on Hitler-genius! I never thought about it that way before, so props to you.
Posted: Sunday, July 21, 2013 2:43:57 AM
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Comment by wltsg

Joined: 7/20/2013
Posts: 2
Thank you very much for your comment!
Posted: Sunday, July 21, 2013 7:37:22 AM
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