Being an American means that we have a rich heritage of patriotism that goes back over two-hundred years. Even though many of us can claim that great heritage, the true meaning of patriotism seems to have been lost and convoluted through the decades until present day when too many of us claim to be patriots without understanding what the real meaning of the word actually entails. If you're wondering what the actual definition is, don't bother looking it up in a dictionary. Being a true American Patriot is much more than written words in a dictionary; it's a state of mind, a love for your country and the principles of freedom and democracy that was instilled in us by the courageous and unselfish actions of our forefathers and the tens of thousands of true patriots that followed in their footsteps through the many years that followed.
I have searched high and low for a definition of patriotism, and while there are definitions in every dictionary known to man, none of them defines the spirit of true patriotism nor do they convey the deep honor and respect that we hold for those who were true American patriots. Does that mean that no words actually define the word Patriotism? I pondered that thought before attempting to write this article and after considerable thought I came to the conclusion that even though true patriotism is often a state of mind, it can be described by words, but there is no canned definition that successfully illustrates the word.
WikipediA does more than state a definition and this is what they have written:
Patriotism is a love and devotion to a country for no other reason than being a resident there. It has had different meanings over time and its meaning is highly dependent upon context, geography, and philosophy.
The English term patriot is first attested in the Elizabethan era, via Middle French from Late Latin (6th century) patriota "fellow countryman", ultimately from Greek patri?t?s "fellow countryman". The abstract noun patriotism appears in the early 18th century.
During the 19th century, patriotism became increasingly conflated with nationalism and even jingoism, but when used in contrast with nationalism, the term may still express the more constructive, less antagonistic or aggressive ideal. In classical 18th century patriotism, loyalty to the State was chiefly considered in contrast to loyalty to the Church, and it was argued that clerics should not be allowed to teach in public schools as their patrie was heaven, so that they could not inspire love of the homeland in their students. One of the most influential proponents of this classical notion of patriotism was Jean-Jacques Rousseau. LINK
Even though WikipediA has more information than most dictionary's on patriotism, there is nothing contained therein that vividly describes true patriotism. In fact, their statement that "Patriotism is a love and devotion to a country for no other reason than being a resident there" is not in any way associated with true patriotism. The United States has a population of over three hundred million individuals and I dare say that only a very small percentage of those people are true American patriots. If we look at our Congress and even our nation's Presidency, it's also safe to state that only a very few, probably less than I can count on one hand, would qualify as true American patriots. (Sadly, some of them would better be described as enemies of the state.)
Based on contemporary definitions and the lack of what I call true American patriots currently living in the United States it becomes obvious that patriotism is indeed a hard term to define. I am not an educator, philosopher, or even a historian, but I believe that the essence of patriotism can be found by studying our history and the selfless acts of those who needed nothing more than a love of country and a will to stand up for their beliefs to qualify as true patriots.
For me, the epitome of patriotism can be summed-up by the immortal words of Patrick Henry when he stood before the Virginia Convention on March 23, 1775, and uttered a phrase that has become the battle cry for democracy when he fervently stated "Give me liberty or give me death!" Patrick Henry was credited with convincing the Virginia House of Burgesses to pass a resolution that delivered the Virginia troops to the Revolutionary War. I also believe that true patriotism is also contagious, and when it's from an individuals heart and soul who leads by example rather than rhetoric, it can help to inspire others to begin fostering the seeds of their own patriotism. It's also interesting to note that real patriotism also tends to instill an individual with the courage to stand up for their beliefs, sometimes at great peril to their freedom and often their very lives.
The road to our present day democracy was bathed in the blood of American patriots who believed that all men were created equal and that free men should govern themselves. They also believed in liberty and justice for all, immortal words that have since been relegated to empty words that have lost their intent and meaning. Our forefathers were also adamant that "we the people" should not be subjected to taxation without representation and those principles were instrumental in acquiring our hard earned freedom from British rule that cost thousands of patriots their lives; sadly, along with many other principles that our founding fathers espoused and fought for, taxation without representation has now become commonplace in American society.
For those that don't understand true patriotism, merely being a citizen of the United states qualifies no one as an American patriot. The essence of patriotism requires that one loves his country with a fervor that supersedes his or her personal well being and when the forces of evil attack our Constitution and Bill of Rights, those individuals become outraged and gather their friends, relatives, and neighbors to rally against the injustices against our precious form of democracy.
When we look at the social injustices that are commonplace and the constant erosion of our constitutional rights, it becomes obvious that there are too few real patriots that inhabit our nation. This alone does not mean that the spirit of patriotism is forever gone from our country. Too much of our nation has been conned and believe that liberty and freedom are not in jeopardy by our complicit and corporate controlled Mainstream News Media. Far too many of our politicians have become wealthy gulping at the trough of never-ending contributions from lobbyists and corporate entities and are hopelessly corrupt. To justify their treason they have talked themselves into believing that they know what's best for us and they vote against the will of the people because they are assured it's in our best interests. We all know who they are, and voting them out of office only readies another to take his/her place at the trough of corruption. Those that refuse to take bribes and subject themselves to the will of the Corporations/Elites all too often are so depressed in regard the sorry State of our Union that they often commit suicide or are so distracted that they perish in all types of strange accidents. In all honesty, to be a patriot among a crowd of those who have lost their moral compass is extremely dangerous; to be a patriot in a crowd of hundreds of thousands or millions is the beginning of a successful fight that will rout out those who are the true enemies of liberty and freedom.
I have written this brief essay in an attempt to start a dialogue on what "the people" believe is true patriotism and how we can again become a nation of patriots that respect and honor our Constitution and the Bill of Rights. That said, we have to remember that being a patriot is more than rhetoric or even writing out your thoughts for others to read. There's also one more thought for all to consider; just because someone professes to be a patriot doesn't mean that it's true. It's also a fact that just because someone enlists in the armed forces does not necessarily mean that they are a patriot, especially knowing that thousands of the unemployed are enlisting because they have no other means of supporting their families. Going to war for profit does not embody true patriotism.
Our founding fathers made hundreds of famous statements that many people use to illustrate what liberty and freedom entail and should mean to every American. I could fill this page with quotations that demonstrate the intent of our founding fathers but choose to quote only one more of America's greatest patriots. As you grasp the significance of his wisdom and apply it to what is occurring in our country today, please reply with what you believe can be done to instill the seeds of patriotism in the many millions of Americans that are killing our great country by and through their complacency and utter failure to react to the destruction of the United States. You may wish to contemplate your replies wisely because as close as we are to losing everything to the enemies of democracy, your replies could very well be the hope and salvation of our collective liberty and freedom.
Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.Benjamin Franklin, 1818