What Patriotism Means to Me

I am in the process of joining Daughters of the American Revolution. Almost every generation in my family has served in the military dating back to the Revolutionary War. My dad was in the Special Forces. Although he was an imperfect man in many ways (and I am myself imperfect), I get a lot of my ideas about patriotism from him.

These days, many Americans feign patriotism by purchasing guns and toting them around, and the like.

I have never owned a gun. It’s highly unlikely that I ever will.

I’m a civilian. Probably always will be. But there’s things one can do and ways one can be that are genuinely patriotic without serving in the military.

My dad showed me how.

Being a patriot, for me, is about doing one’s best for one’s community, and for America. It requires sacrifice and I daresay developing some kind of virtue.

My dad was very good at gardening. He grew a lot of his own food. He often gave away the fruits of his labor to neighbors and friends, without asking for money.

He also mowed neighbors’ lawns. Fixed their cars. In general, my dad used his talents to help others.

Being a patriot, for me, also means doing right by Tribal Nations and foreign countries. It means being welcoming to immigrants.

Being a patriot, for me, means investing in education, both mine and others’. It means doing my best to develop intellectual virtues and encouraging the pursuit of knowledge in younger generations.

Being a patriot means recognizing what America has given me while working to make things better for others.

None of this, as you can see, requires a gun.

Rather, to me, patriotism is a life dedicated to service, whether military or civilian. It means bringing out one’s best and encouraging the best from others. It means tolerating–even celebrating–differences, because they are what make America unique. It means defending democracy, and doing one’s best to keep America upright.

I don’t even own an American Flag. I don’t scare other Americans by pounding my chest. Instead, I seek out the downtrodden, like my dad taught me to, and like it says on the Statue of Liberty.

This is a very different kind of patriotism that what is popularized in the media.

So, when people ask me why I’m joining Daughters of the American Revolution, all of this is why. My values and their values line up.

I’m simply doing what my dad taught me to do.

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