Patriotism is a word that has gotten a lot of use in the last few years as more and more people try to define what patriotism is based on how much you fly your flag and how many magnets you have on your car.
Posted January 1,2020 in History and Facts.
The expression of patriotism we show at the fourth of the July when we cut loose with those fireworks or we shout in agreement at stirring patriotic speeches are not the kind of patriotism that makes this country as great as it is.
This is not to say that there is no place for that kind of patriotic expression. To be able to express devotion to country openly is one of our rights. And when all citizens of this country can do that in agreement, it builds community and the kind of pride that makes the nation strong.
There is a phrase that one of the army divisions uses to explain to anybody who asks what makes that unit so brave and able to do such amazing things in battle or whenever called into duty. It is a very simple phrase but one that is full of meaning. It simply says deeds not words.
The concept of deeds being the true substance of patriotism is nowhere better shown than in the many acts of community service that go on in this country every week of the year. All over this great land, clubs, Boy Scout troops, churches, businesses and every imaginable kind of organization go into the community to do service projects to make their communities a better place to live.
Maybe this doesnt seem like patriotism because we tend to associate patriotism with love of the country as a whole. But none of us live in the country as a whole. Each of us lives in a community that taken together make this wonderful country as great as it is. The country isnt great because it photographs well from space. It is great because in little towns and small cities and big metropolises and out in the country, Americans get out and find ways to help each other and to help their communities grow and continue to prosper.
That spirit of community service is always on display when you see moments of crisis in part of the country. We see situations every week where there is a tornado here or a fire there or a lost child in one small town or a family who loses everything in another.
When we see that, without fail, you see the local community rally to the aid of those who lost the most. In fact, when the national media does their job of letting us know when the need is great, the nation as a whole will pitch in and do all they can to help out their neighbors in another state, even though these are neighbors they have never met and that they will never see again.
Obviously dramatic events like the 911 attacks show that kind of spirit most dramatically. At the local level, even in a town like New York City, on the sight where there was tremendous danger and loss of life everywhere, those New Yorkers became what we all are.
They became Americans and even with the threat of more danger, they got in there and helped the wounded. And then day by day, week by week, those Americans set upon a community service project to end all community service projects as they began to put those neighborhoods back together again and make a community out of what terrorists turned into a war zone.
But the local community service is not the end of the story. Soon from all over America, from small towns and big cities, armies of volunteers, coordinated by wise agencies that we depend on in times like these, moved into New York to lend their hands, neighbor to neighbor to help rebuild that city.
Never mind if that mother from Peoria knew about New York or agreed with them politically. She saw a neighbor in pain and a town attacked by an enemy. And Americans come together when we need each other. That is the heart of what makes community service work. And that is the true meaning of patriotism.