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Defining Patriotism

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Message Ben Witbrodt
   Defining Patriotism

Get ready for the onslaught. The next few months will inundate our senses with red, white and blue signs, claims and counter claims in the news, media ads by your favorite and not so favorite politicians. Special interest groups and political parties will all be trying to convince us that they and they alone have our best interests at heart. Some of these messages may even question our patriotism, implying if we don't agree with their side we are not being patriotic. Which got me to thinking; what does it mean to be patriotic?

Webster's defines a patriot as "A person who loves, supports, and defends his or her country and its interests". Fair enough, I don't think anyone would argue with that and most people would consider themselves patriots by that definition. But I don't think that goes deep enough. This simplified version opens the door to what I would call "fake patriots". Americans who follow one political party without question, listen to media moguls that only present one side of the story, or wrap themselves in slogans like " America, love it or leave it". To me these individuals are fake patriots. It's not that easy.

The second definition in Webster's has a little more meat in it. A patriot is a person who regards himself or herself as a defender, especially of individual rights, against presumed interference by the federal government. Like I said, it's not that easy. We need to take an active role in maintaining our liberty and freedoms our founders fought for. Quoting a line from Naomi Wolfs book Give Me Liberty, she writes "The founders did not create liberty for America, but America for liberty". So being a real patriot takes some work.

Financial planners say before investing in any stock you need to perform due diligence. The politicians will all want us to believe their message is the right one and the other party is wrong.  True patriots will delve into the hot button issues to uncover the truth. Check out the current bills before congress in the state and federal docket. Will these bills affect my liberty or freedom? Do they infringe on anyone with regard to race, creed or sexual orientation? Remember, it's liberty for ALL. Will the candidates running for office represent all Americans or just themselves and their special interests.

As real patriots we need to study the tough issues and problems that face Americans. We must become better informed so we can discuss candidly and without prejudice to find answers to these problems. Real patriots will not squander the liberty and freedom so many Americans have fought and died for. John Kennedy said "The unity of freedom has never relied on a uniformity of opinion". Lets not quit fighting for the freedom to express those opinions. Being a patriot is not easy.

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I am retired from the United States Post Office and enjoy making wine and bike riding. since my retirement in 2007 I have worked with AARP doing taxes for seniors and am also active in our local commission on aging.
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