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Teens and Patriotism Trend Report:  teens and patriotism national report

"Patriotism" What does it mean to love your country?  Why are you proud (or not proud) of your country?

This July, America celebrated its 237th birthday. We wanted to ask teens and students, no matter their nationality, what patriotism meant to them.

Students and bloggers submitted their passionate essays about the pride for their country as they answered the question,

"What does it mean to love your country?"

Teens and Patriotism Trend Report Overview:

VISITS:  Over 5,500 teens and college students visited the student poll and writing contest during the month's writing prompt (July 2013) from across the US (all 50 states) and dozens of international countries.
  • TEENS and SURVEY DATA:  231 students fully completed the national survey sharing their thoughts on patriotism. 
  • ESSAY THEMES:  Out of all of the topics discussed, five major themes were collectively revealed by teens in their patriotism essays. 
  • STUDENT ESSAYS 64 student bloggers submitted a qualifying essay to the Teens and Patriotism national writing contest answering the question, "What does it mean to love your country?"  
  • ESSAY WINNER:  First, second, and third place winners, 3 Runners Up, and 9 Semi-Finalists were selected. 

Background This July, we find ourselves in a position to discuss the topic of patriotism.  It's America's 237th birthday.  Consider these examples...

  • Soldiers are deployed across the world's battlefields - some view this line of duty a brave sacrifice to protect democracy and freedom while others call it military oppression. 
  • Edward Snowden turned over classified US documents to the press - some call him a spy and a traitor while others call him a patriot for releasing unseen truths.
All of this leads us to ask the questions – What is patriotism?  What does it mean to love your country?  Why are you proud (or not proud) of your country?

Read what teens said in their essay submissions below.


Before submitting their writing contest essay, teens were asked to complete the Stage of Life monthly national survey about why they love their country. Here are the teen statistics from the survey...

  • 90% of students love their country
  • 64.5% of respondents have been ashamed of their country
  • 36.8% of respondents have a family member who is actively serving in the military
  • 88.7% of respondents think that military service is a patriotic act
  • Edward Snowden, traitor or patriot?
    • 26.8% Traitor
    • 34.6% Patriot
  •  When reciting the pledge of allegiance, 62.8% of respondents recite the entire Pledge, while only 1.3% do not participate (Note: 16.9% of respondents were not applicable for this question)
  • 62.8% of students have spoken to an immigrant about why they moved to their country
  • 64.9% of respondents' families do not hang their countries flag outside of their homes
  • 64.5% can sing their entire National Anthem
  • 83.5% consider themselves a patriotteens and patriotism survey results
To read the full national survey results, click the PDF icon to save the free download.


Students submitted their writing contest essays to  From the 60+ qualifying teen essay submissions, several themes and trends emerged about how students feel about their country:

Themes and Trends from the Patriotism Essays...

  • teens and summer trend report America isn’t Perfect: America is the land of opportunity; land of the free, home of the brave. Sort of. Most teens agreed that, while America isn’t free entirely from oppression and other embarrassing social and government issues, our country is still one to be proud of.
  • Patriotism is Personal: Much like love, patriotism seems to be personal for every teen. Most agree that it involves supporting and loving your country, but others found patriotism in simple moments like fireworks displays or country music concerts.
  • Americans are Cocky: Most negative entries from teens noted that many Americans can be overzealous about their patriotism, even to the point of obnoxious. These teens, many of whom had traveled abroad, noticed the humility in other countries and were sometimes embarrassed to introduce themselves as American.
  • Americans are Determined: However, our strong-willed nature and passion for America makes us a force to be reckoned with across the world. Americans are willing to change issues internally through protest. After all, a voter’s voice speaks volumes.
  • Patriotism Across the World: Many other countries were represented in this contest. Teens from Canada, Singapore, and Israel, to name a few, expressed the same sentiments about their country that Americans teens did about ours: no country is perfect, but when it’s your home, you love it all the same.


Teens Blog on StageofLife.comImmediately below, you'll find links to the winning essay, our runners-up, semi-finalists, and 60+ essays from college students and teenagers about their love for their country.

Please take a few moments to read an essay or two, especially our winners, runners-up, and finalists.

If you have the time, make a comment on the responses you enjoyed the most.  We know the student writers will love hearing your positive input (they'll get an email notifying them if you comment on their writing contest entry).

Stage of Life writing contest winnerTeen & College Essay Contest Winner and Place Finishers:

  • 1st Place Winner: Patriotism: Faith in Freedom by tordcksn17 (Patriotism doesn’t mean blindly loving your country)
  • 2nd Place:  Patriotism: The Courage to Hope by Zhango (We as Americans must reestablish hope in our country)

  • 3rd Place:  Patriotism: Soaring High in Harmony by aisyahlyana (Do good for your country)

3 Runners Up (in no particular order): student essay writers - Runners Up
  1. Patriotism: A Marriage to Harmony by REENA (She loves living in Australia)

  2. Patriotism: You Don’t Have to be a Citizen by Collins (This teen’s mom loves America and teaches American history… even though she’s technically not a citizen)
  3. Patriotism: It Might Be Love, The American Way by KristenH16 (Prose about America as a teenager, and a college campus) teen essay writers - Semi-Finalists9 Semi-Finalists (in no particular order):
  1. Patriotism: Patriotism Is… by ShirleyM (A poetic list of what patriotism means to this teen)
  2. Patriotism: Love Thy Country by Amanda M (This soldier thinks that being a patriot means living your life to the fullest in your country)
  3. Patriotism: The Real Meaning of Home by StavNachum (This teen yearns for Israel)
  4. Patriotism: One Nation, Separate from the World by jennyspi97 (This teen spent time overseas and realized how unintentionally condescending Americans can be)
  5. Patriotism: One Nation With Flaws by KellyNicolas (Our nationalism gets out of control)
  6. Patriotism: Look to our Past for a Better Future by MadHats (Our nation is too cynical and underinformed)
  7. Patriotism: Does This Justify Every Atrocity? by Elizabeth YW (This teen is skeptical of the excuses some “patriots” make for America’s bad actions)
  8. Patriotism: Standing up for what’s right after others believe it is wrong by jag (A philosophical discussion of the definition of patriotism)

We received submissions on this writing prompt from many of the life stages and generations on  Here are the Patriotism Essay Contest Winners from our non-student categories...

  • COMING SOON writing contest submissions

Read All Qualifying Teen & College Essays for the National Writing Contest
- "What do you love about your country?"

The essays below were written by Stage of Life teen writers for the monthly writing contest


Somewhere in the Middle



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Below you will find all of the monthly writing contests and teen trend reports from the last five years hosted by  Our dedication to digital literacy efforts have reached over 1,000,000 students and teachers in the last half decade, received mention on, and features in the news.  Feel free to click through and read the top essay submissions from any given month. is honored to be one of the most-visited writing contests for students in the world.  We love working with you as we celebrate the journey as life-long readers and writers...

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