My Turn: The many reasons Americans should be proud
‘Recapturing the meaning of patriotism” seemed to be an appropriate title for the Monitor’s editorial on the Fourth of July.
However, the editors chose to frame their discussion around the difference between what they termed as the “supernationalism” of two cable television pundits and true patriotism.
The discussion was sparked by a talk show segment about a recent Pew Poll of 10,000 adults, where 44 percent of the respondents indicated they do not “often feel proud to be an American.”
The Monitor editorial suggested we adjust our thinking about patriotism, and it offered some examples of patriotism. We can all agree that voting is patriotic, as is desiring the safe return of our troops from any war, justified or unjustified.
However, it is also patriotic to give our military the support it needs to carry out the mission. But the discussion cannot simply ignore the definition of a patriot. A patriot is a person who loves, supports and defends his or her country. During my lifetime, there has been a shift.
Throughout history, Americans have exercised their rights to disagree with specific laws and policies. Recently, some Americans have developed a general critical attitude toward this nation. The Monitor expressed this attitude by stating that “Along the way America has stumbled often and continues to do so.” Has America actually stumbled often, meaning frequently and over and over again, and should we assume this pattern will continue? Do we really need to relinquish the kind of patriotism that carried us through World War II as E.B White suggested?
Perhaps the Monitor editors and the late E.B. White should have realized that it is sometimes difficult to love, support and defend something that is good but not perfect.
The 44 percent who indicated that they not often feel proud to be an American do not need to be reminded about America’s failures. They need to be reminded about what is good about America. We can be proud of our Constitution and the Bill of Rights, the fight for Civil Rights legislation and the humanitarian aid that we readily offer to other countries in times of disaster. We can be proud of the men and women who volunteer to fight for our freedoms.
The results of the Pew Poll should be the cause for concern rather than the positions of the pundits. Patriotism is exemplified by devotion and loyalty. Even supernationalists can, therefore, be patriotic. But it is only logical that Americans who are dissatisfied with this nation will find it difficult to love, support and defend their country.
Yes, we need to recapture patriotism, but in its true meaning.
(Mary K. Parker lives in Concord.)