My Musings

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Patriotism: Nothing More Than A Fad?

Have you ever listened to someone who is lazy talk about hard work? Have you ever listened to someone who is foolish try to give someone else advice? Have you ever heard someone who has done very little for their country speak patriotically? If you are like me...you have.

When I was in High School, I loved all things patriotic. My bedroom was decorated in red, white, and blue. I had posters depicting the classic "Uncle Sam Wants You!" portrait. I had patriotic poems published in the newspaper. I read books upon books about American history. I was fascinated and consumed with everything American. I was very patriotic. I was also very naive and very idealist.

As I looked around me, I began to see that everyone had some sense of patriotism towards America...and that of course is good...sort of. The only problem I had with this seemingly great thing was that many people were doing absolutely nothing to support America with anything other than words. They were toting the cute red, white, and blue bumper sticker or the patriotic novelty tee-shirt, but with their actions they did nothing patriotic. They griped about taxes, about the government, and about everything else American. They contributed in a very negative way to society in many ways. They boasted only disrespect to the law and to right. None of these negative things in their lives mattered, however. They had the bumper sticker with the flag on it, therefore they were patriotic. So were they patriotic? Or were they just participating in a popular post-Sept. 11 fad? I began to think that many were simply doing the latter of the two.

I stopped writing the poetry. I stopped being so outspoken about my love for the military and for the country. After all, what had I done to contribute positively for America? What really had I done? Don't get me wrong. I did not become unpatriotic. In fact, just the opposite has happened. My love for America has only grown since then in ways that I simply cannot describe. I simply developed a contempt for those that would feign patriotism for some sort of pseudo-patriotic status and I did not want to be counted among their ranks.

"Too many people have given to much for America for the flag to be used as a fad." A former soldier made a remark similar to this one which triggered my new-found contempt for what I have now dubbed as "pseudo-patriotism." The man who made that remark to me now has a purple heart, the medal of commendation that you don't want to receive! He fought and paid the price for us. He is a patriot in every sense of term. He is in my mind a great hero. He is also my brother.

When he made the statement to me, he said it in passing. He probably doesn't even remember saying it to me. I have thought about that sentiment ever since that day, however, and decided that I want to be known as someone who did something for my country and not as someone who said something about my country.

I am not saying that everyone who claims to be patriotic needs to run off and join the military. That is the farthest thing from what I am saying. But friends, I don't need to tell you what you can do to help America. You know as well as I do that you can be doing things right now to show your love for this country. There are tons of things that you can do in your church or in your community to demonstrate patriotism in a way that goes beyond the fadish uses of flowery words and interesting bumper stickers. Friends, don't be a pseudo-patriotic American. I don't mean to be rude, but if you are...you make me sick!

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