Sometimes people remark on what they see as my lack of patriotism. This is frustrating to me, because I feel strongly that I am a patriot. Perhaps my patriotism is different than theirs.
My patriotism is not the kind that swaths itself in flags and “God Bless America” signs. My patriotism is not the kind that blindly follows what the government says at all times.
My patriotism is not the kind that assumes that everything my country does is right.
I am rather afraid of people whose patriotism is like that.
My patriotism is the kind that wants my country to be the best that it can be, but does not believe that my country has reached that point yet.
My patriotism is the kind that stands ever vigilant in defense of the rights given to us by our constitution, and ever aware of the responsibilities delineated therein.
My patriotism is the kind that votes, for local, state, and national elections.
I am in love with what this country could be, should be, was dreamed to be. There are a lot of things about this country right now that I’m not a fan of, and I’m often vocally critical about these things. That does not in any way show a lack of affection for my country, but the very opposite. If I didn’t care about my country, it wouldn’t be a big deal when my countrymen and women’s civil rights are trampled. I wouldn’t care it my country did something I found wrong if I didn’t first care deeply about my country.
This makes itself most strongly felt when I contemplate war, both now and in our nation’s past. For centuries my family has fought in this nation’s wars, from the Revolutionary War to the Civil War to WWII. I’m proud of my ancestors who fought for this country’s independence, and my grandfather who fought against Hitler, but made uneasy by my family’s penchant for grey uniforms in the 1860’s.
More recently, I’m really glad that my asthma ended my abortive attempt to join the Air Force in 2001, since I strongly disagree with the non-Afghanistan action our country has instigated.
I weep for the soldiers who are killed and maimed in the service of our country, and fear that their sacrifice is for naught, or for a cause that we don’t really want to support.
If I knew that I could make our country into what it should be, a place where all people, regardless of race, gender, religion, nation of origin, sexual orientation, education level, or primary language can live in peace and prosperity in community with each other I would gladly do whatever it took – up to and including my life.
If that’s what it means to be a patriot, I am one.