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This brand of patriotism, in fact, gets me through the roughest and most cynical of times.My patriotism is never affected by any politician’s failures, or any shortcoming of some government policy, or any slump in the economy or stock market.And while it’s always fitting to mourn those who lost their lives simply because they resided on American soil, that too does not define patriotism. They are endowed not by government but by their Creator with certain unalienable rights.
In 1320, in an effort to explain why they had spent the previous 30 years in bloody battle to expel the invading English, Scottish leaders ended their Declaration of Arbroath with this line: “It is not for honor or glory or wealth that we fight, but for freedom alone, which no good man gives up except with his life.” Freedom—understanding it, living it, teaching it, and supporting those who are educating others about its principles.
That, my fellow Americans, is what patriotism should mean to each of us today.
Editor's note: This article was originally published in June 2003 Patriotism these days is like Christmas—lots of people caught up in a festive atmosphere replete with lights and spectacles.
We hear reminders about “the true meaning” of Christmas—and we may even mutter a few guilt-ridden words to that effect ourselves—but each of us spends more time and thought in parties, gift-giving, and the other paraphernalia of a secularized holiday than we do deepening our devotion to the true meaning.
I hope the Ugandans and Paraguayans have lofty ideals they celebrate when they feel patriotic, but whether or not they do is a question you’ll have to ask them.
I can only tell you what patriotism means to me as an American.
Patriotism is love of country, if by “country” you mean scenery—amber waves of grain, purple mountain majesty, and the like.
Almost every country has pretty collections of rocks, water, and stuff that people grow and eat.
If that’s what patriotism is all about, then Americans have precious little for which we can claim any special or unique love.
And surely, patriotism cannot mean giving one’s life for a river or a mountain range.