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Patriotism: Made in America

Joined: 7/21/2013
Posts: 1
The Merriam-Webster Learner’s Dictionary defines a patriot as a person who loves and strongly supports or fights for his or her country. At first glance, I am satisfied with this definition. However, after more thought, I begin to ask myself why. Why are people patriotic? In the global society we live in today, why do people feel so loyal to a land who’s boarders were drawn so long ago? With planes, and trains, and cars that can take you everywhere and can bypass geographical boarders, why is your country all that important? As I began to ponder the concept of patriotism and why people care so much about being patriotic, I realized I needed to think a little about why I am so proud to say that I am an American.

I can remember being in 5th grade, and it was our grade’s responsibility to put up the flag before school started and to take it down shortly before dismissal. I always raised my hand, because I was afraid that if I wasn’t there , it wouldn’t be taken down and folded right. I would trudge outside with whomever accompanied on that particular day and be in position to catch the gently descending flag in my arms. Usually my partner would follow my lead and I would instruct them on the proper way to fold it, as my grandfather had taught me. There was a particular afternoon where my partner hadn’t been all that enthusiastic about taking down the flag and allowed his side to touch the ground. I began to cry.

Why did this have such an effect on me? Most kids would just shrug and continue folding. However, I reentered the classroom inconsolable, because the flag had touched the ground on my watch. It was just a piece of cloth. Yet, it means more than that. It stands for that hunk of land that 300 million people share. It stands for all those who’ve ever watched a sunset on the Atlantic, or driven a Chevy truck down a back road at night. It stands for all the awkward prom pictures taken on front porches and spent an afternoon at a ballpark with a hot dog and Coke. It stands for belonging to something bigger.

Maybe that is why there are fireworks on the 4th of July and flags outside every house on my street. Maybe patriotism is the manifestation of the inate human desire to belong, to be a part of something. Everybody wants to feel like they are a part of something, Being a citizen of a country is just that. Patriotism is celebrating being a member of a group of people who experience joys and trials together. They may not always agree, but they work on it. Some are even willing to die in order to protect the things this group holds dear. Patriotism is being proud of who you are, where you come from, and the people you share it with.
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