"Patriotism or national pride is the ideology of love and devotion to a homeland, and a sense of alliance with other citizens who share the same values. This attachment can be a combination of many different features relating to one's own homeland, including ethnic, cultural, political or historical aspects. It encompasses a set of concepts closely related to those of nationalism" according to Wikipedia. I sat down and asked myself if that description fit my idea of what it means to be patriotic.
To be honest, I scratch my head and wonder if I truly share a sense of alliance with other American citizens who have the opposite values. I do indeed consider myself a 24 hour a day 7 day a week patriot even though some people on my side of the philosophical fence may see me as weak because I don't routinely break down my firearms and clean them. I don't get all teary eyed when Glock issues a 5th generation 9mm handgun either.
Being a mild history buff, I believe I have a good idea what the Constitution is telling us and the amendments. I've read the Bill of rights, but like most of us, I could use a refresher. The reason I could brush up on these important documents is simple. I feel they are safe and being upheld for the most part. Seriously. If I didn't, I would pour over those documents on a daily basis while I watched the neighborhood for anarchists (for my family's safety of course).
I truly believe in law and order and although I keep my eye open for deviant police officers, I have an inherent trust in them. I actually believe if I don't do something stupid when an officer inquires, everything will be fine and dandy. Of course I may get a ticket, but that's my reward for breaking the law. Should I blame the cop? Nope, no more than blaming the mailman when he delivers my bills.
During my 4 years in the Air Force and the almost 2 years I spent in our effort in Southeast Asia, I do not remember celebrating the 4th of July, or Memorial day, or even Veteran's day as something special. The reason was probably because our country treats holidays as a time to relax and BBQ. Everyone in the military with rank above about a Corporal, takes the day off. Well, lucky me was a Buck Sergeant, which was the Air Force's equivalent of a Corporal. Almost every enlisted person in this branch will not be promoted until after their first enlistment is over, so no holidays for you! You get to work!
Entering the civilian labor force didn't change this because I almost immediately began working for a large chemical company and once again I was at the bottom of the rank structure. This meant holidays, including the venerated 4th of July became just another day, but with premium pay and all the senior folks took off and cooked BBQ with the fam.
So, we have had a dilution of what holidays stand for, for many of the working class. What many of us have done to offset this is become real patriots who through our labor have allowed our families to enjoy the festivities while we suited up to spend the day or night shift-working. Our work ethic has promoted being a patriot through our actions. My uniform had an American flag on one shoulder and a Texas on the other. My full brim hard hat was covered in a vinyl American flag and frankly, I didn't care if anyone liked it or not. I paid my dues and I didn't have to justify why I loved this country or explain it.
Each patriotic holiday, my flag flies in front of my home and it doesn't matter who is in the White House. I refuse to argue over current perceived bumps in our leadership when it comes to my love of this country. I also will not attempt to cram my version down anyone's throat. The reason for this is I've lived in a Third World country and seen what the citizens there have and what we have here. At our worst, we still shine like a diamond.
Isn't it odd how so many people of so many different ideologies can live in harmony because we haven't lost sight of the goal of a free America? That is how it should be and I myself need to be reminded of it time to time. When it gets right down to it, you take 50 Americans who couldn't agree on anything and put them in an emergency situation and just watch how fast they pool their resources to resolve the problem.
Our diversity is our strength. Embracing it is our future.