American Independence Day

As we look to what may be one of the most patriotic holidays in the United States of America (Memorial Day, Veteran’s Day, and Armed Forces Day should also be remembered), perhaps it’s time to look at what it really means to be a patriot.

Dictionary.com defines patriotism as “devoted love, support, and defense of one’s country; national loyalty.” To me, it is summed up in a very famous quote spoken by John F. Kennedy at his inauguration:

As not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.

I would like to ask some pointed questions to get you thinking about how much of a patriot you are, and how much of a patriot you are willing to be

  • When someone disagrees with your political views, are you willing to listen? Can a civil, respectful conversation and exchange of ideas take place? Can you at least accept that the other person has given thought and feels that they have a valid reason for their opinion?
  • Can you respect the rights of individuals and groups in this country — even when you feel they are being disrespectful and rude?
  • Can you refrain from name-calling, self-righteousness, and other attitudes that build walls instead of bridges, even if it’s not returned?
  • Are you willing to stop wringing your hands and demanding that “someone needs to do something about this,” and instead roll up your sleeves and do whatever good you can in your circle of influence?
  • Will you live by the law and use legal means to have laws changed?
  • Will you try to get to know the people around you and influence them in such a way that they are better off for having met you?
  • Will you be kind to a stranger?
  • Would you volunteer to help people whose “bad luck” may be from their own bad choices, but who now need help to get back on track?
  • Are you pushing yourself to be your own personal best and brightest self?
  • Are you willing to give of yourself to help someone else become their best and brightest self?
  • Is your sense of duty bigger than your desire to rest and relax because “you earned it?”

I could probably keep going for a long time, but you get the idea. Building a strong country isn’t the government’s job. Fixing what’s wrong isn’t the government’s job. Making this country better really isn’t the government’s job. It’s time for us to step back up and claim the ideals that we were founded on — the chance to make something of ourselves and the responsibility to make sure our neighbors have that chance, too.

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