In order to begin to understand what patriotism is, I had to do a deep dive and learn the true meaning of patriotism. So, I began my search by looking up the definition of patriotism. According to the Merriam Dictionary, the word patriot means love for one's country or love for or devotion to one’s country. The Greek word pater, meaning father, was the original basis for the word patri1s, or native land; thus, the word patriotic was born and later came to mean “a love of country”. If we go back some 2000 years earlier prior to the rise of the 19th century, the Greek and the Romans provided the foundation for the philosophy of political patriotism. Their belief was that patriotism was a sense of loyalty to the patria or political conception of the republic.i Patriotism is different from Nationalism in that, Nationalism means the loyalty to one’s nation. Furthermore, it’s associated with common liberty, love and law, in the quest for unity or a sense of common good, presenting oneself justly toward the country. The concept was for citizens to come together to safeguard their cities and country. The original thought here was for every citizen to have their own interest and beliefs come together for a common goal or good which was to protect their cities from corruption. The general thought was to love your city and to also sacrifice your own good for the overall protection of the common good. Over time, a small group of critics began to connect patriotism with pride leading to chauvinism and inequalities.
I then looked at the definition of patriotism from statista.com, according to statista.com, patriotism means inclusive love of family, friends, community, and country – in all their diversity and messiness – without hatred of the “others.” To most, patriotism allows for criticism, seeks progress, and embraces cooperation rather than conflict with the wider world. In America, when you think of patriotism you think of the following:
- The Pledge of Allegiance
- The National Anthem
- Running for a political office
- Joining the armed forces
- Women’s suffrage movement
- The Civil Rights movement
- Celebrating past times like Memorial Day, Veteran’s Day, the 4th of July.
- Supporting a national sports team
When I think of patriotism, today, does America truly operate in the spirit of love? Can we truly have love for this country and not show or have love for all of its members that this nation represents? There is still so much separation and hatred in this country today that I wonder if the meaning of patriotism needs to be changed to fit the reality of some of its citizens. I feel that patriotism should mean that we love this country so much, that we hold each other accountable to the ideals that it proclaims. As we are embarking on the celebration of this country’s independence, there still remains a great deal of civil unrest. Can we truly believe this is a nation based on patriotism? Are the citizens of this country possessing full rights, and have the full protections of what this citizenship should provide? How can each one of us do our part to unify this country so that all people can experience the full effect of patriotism and the beauty and splendor this country has to offer?