In modern-day America, sometimes it feels as if loving one’s country is a political stance. We have shifted away from what our Founding Fathers wanted, and instead adopted labels like “conservative” or “liberal.” Now more than ever we need responsible, informed, patriotic young Americans to take the flaming torch of liberty in order to keep our country intact.
Patriotism used to be ingrained in American culture, but lately that hasn’t been the case. Popular media takes the stance of showing only our faults. Very rarely do they showcase American strengths in order to build upon them.
Politicians pit people against each other with increasingly vicious rhetoric which has only exacerbated painful divisions between fellow Americans. Some people have lost hope and feel that patriotism won’t be enough to heal the divides.
When the twin towers fell, we did not lose faith in America. We joined together, rebuilt, and took on the burden of helping those affected by the tragedy. We did not falter and we certainly did not give up. The next attack on America is not one with explosions and bloodshed, but rather indifference and waning attention to our most inalienable rights that should be afforded to all people. The first step towards healing the wounds of our nation, left bleeding by the onslaught of identity politics, is by finding common ground, starting with the idea that we are all Americans.
Some think that patriotism is wearing your nation’s flag as a blindfold, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Patriotism is loving one’s country enough to put aside one’s political affiliations and personal views in order to come together and find compromise with their fellow countrymen. Though Martin Luther King Jr. had political leanings, he refused to adhere to one party’s ideology for fear of his message becoming divisive. King understood the value of unity in times of hatred.
Many people shy away from patriotism because they believe it means blind obedience. However, patriotism is not just love for one’s country in its current state, but also love for what it could be. It’s an optimism that I fear millenials have lost. Millenials are constantly searching for identity and who they are, yet forget that they can always fall back on the fact that they are all Americans.
Henry David Thoreau coined the phrase “civil disobedience” in 1848, believing that citizens needed to actively challenge laws that opposed their moral beliefs. It would be unwise to forget the patriots who fought against the Jim Crow laws and fought for more civil rights for Americans, whether that be the right for African Americans and women to vote, or to protect Americans’ right to own firearms without infringement. However, if one does not love their country, then why would they advocate for positive change? Patriotism is not blind obedience, but a fuel that motivates people to better their country.
As Thomas Jefferson reminded us, it is not enough that our rights are enshrined in the Constitution. They need to be fought for by vigilant and patriotic Americans with a firm understanding of the United States Constitution.
It is time to make America great again. To erase party lines. To shake hands. To engage in meaningful debate devoid of insults and catch-phrase politics. To visit our national monuments and buy American made flags and products. Most importantly, to fight for the rights of both our political allies and opposition.
It’s time for Americans to own that they are American again.