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Patriotism: A Word Defined

I consider myself to be somewhat an amateur Revolutionary War history buff. I've recently read two exemplary books on the subject, "Patriots", by A.J. Langguth, and "1776", by David McCullough. As I am now reading through David McCullough's "John Adams", I am awestruck at just what these men of uncanny education and foresight were able to accomplish with what could only be described as perseverance of pure willpower.

George Washington, between serving as both Commander in Chief of an undisciplined, untrained army, eventually being elected to two terms as our first president, gave almost 16 years of his life to an ideal. An ideal, which if it were not to have materialized, would have resulted in his hanging for high treason of British law.

The same can be said of John Adams. Though not as glorified by history, he was described by Thomas Jefferson as the "Colossus of Independence", consistently fighting and lobbying the Continental Congress on behalf of liberty and independence for America. Adams had a wife, Abigail, and 5 children. Between serving in the Continental Congress and being ambassador to France, the Netherlands, and eventually England, Adams freely gave almost 12 years of his life to his fledgling county, not including his election as the 2nd President of the United States.

The word patriotism now is used more to diminish one's love of country than to honor it. And at times, it is used as badge of dishonor to some.

The only people today worthy of the true spirit of the word are the men and women in our military, who give their daily lives, both in terms of time served away from home, and in some cases literally for our country.

They, as Washington and Adams, deserve our utmost gratitude and enduring admiration.


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Comments (12)

I think you miss t... (Below threshold)
dr lava:

I think you miss the entire point of the founders of this country if you actually think that the guy walking in front of the Whitehouse with a protest sign is less patriotic than a soldier in uniform.

To misunderstand the basic reasons our country was formed is just astonishing.

Conservatives submission to perceived authority and fetishism with the military instead of recognizing real problems in our country and with the commander in chiefs miss-use of our military and working to solve them is very unpatriotic.

Wizbang has long been in the habit of talking about supporting our military but when it comes down to making a real effort at change there is nothing there.

Go back to last summers battle to pass the new GI bill or Bushs veto or McCains/ republicans failure to vote for it. Where was the conservative voice supporting the troops?

Silent in passive submission.

Sheesh. No offense, but wha... (Below threshold)
bobdog:

Sheesh. No offense, but whatever you're smoking, it's no good for ya, son.

I still get a awesome feeel... (Below threshold)
mag:

I still get a awesome feeeling when I think of the people known and unknown who formed this country. Sure we were not perfect then or now, but I think they came up with the best of what humans had to offer.

I understand that being against a war does not make you unpatriotic. Of course not, my feelings are (right or wrong) fighting in a foreign country (Vietnam/Iraq) is not worth one American life. What is unpatriotic is hoping your country loses any war or conflict it is in. That to me is the big difference.
However, wherever they send the troops I truly support in any way I can. Giving money, sending packages, hoping they complete the mission and praying for their safety daily.

"I consider myself to be... (Below threshold)
MyPetGloat:

"I consider myself to be somewhat an amateur Revolutionary War history buff."

Writing at length on a topic where the author is a self-admitted amateur? On Wizbang? Say it isn't so!

dr lava -Which bil... (Below threshold)
apb:

dr lava -

Which bill are you talking about? Was it the one funded by an added special tax on the 'wealthy' that included multiple spending projects not related to GI's?

Congress-scum are notorious for crapping up good intent with largesse. Your assertion about McCain/repubs not supporting the troops though denial of bad law is childish.

Put me in the firmly wrappe... (Below threshold)
irongrampa:

Put me in the firmly wrapped in the flag camp.
Doesn't matter if loving my country enough to die for it bucks the current trend, but it's MY conviction.
Watching people proclaim themselves patriots whilst decrying our military, flaunting casualty counts like some sort of macabre, triumphal banner for purely political ends has to be the most nauseating thing imaginable.
I have no problem with dissent,just the hypocrisy involved by far too many. All of you know WHO--Code Pink, Moveon, etc. These arent patriots they'reloathesome hypocrits.

No mention of paying higher... (Below threshold)
ODA315:

No mention of paying higher taxes being patriotic? I read 1776 and couldn't find it either.

The only people to... (Below threshold)
Anon Y. Mous:
The only people today worthy of the true spirit of the word are the men and women in our military, who give their daily lives, both in terms of time served away from home, and in some cases literally for our country.

I don't think you really believe this. John Adams, who you rightly praise in this post, never served in the armed forces. As you note, he found other ways to serve his country.

I do agree that those who serve in our armed forces are due special recognition for their service to our country. But, there are many, many true patriots who choose a different path.

Washington was given absolu... (Below threshold)
OLDPUPPYMAX:

Washington was given absolute, dictatorial power by the Congress in 1776. He gave it back, quite humbly when the war ended. Imagine one of our thug politicians following that example today! How far the class of this nations "leaders" has fallen.

Shawn,Everyone wan... (Below threshold)
Smiles:

Shawn,

Everyone wants to consider themself patriotic but few people are in the same sense as George Washington, Thomas Jefferson or people in the military.

I remember during the first few months of the Iraq war when half the cars had flags on them. One of the things I often noticed at traffic lights was when two cars next to each other both had flags, they would gaze at each others flags with a beaming smile. I'm not sure exactly why this turned me off so much. I think it was because I thought about our soldiers dieing and getting wounded and the hell they must be living through. All of the people in the cars with flags had big smiles on their faces. It was as if to them patriotism was just about feeling good about one's country. To the soldiers it was much deeper. To them it was the willingness to make the ultimate sacrifice.

Patriotism is a good thing and everybody wants to consider themself patriotic. But just wanting to be, thinking you are and waving a flag does not make one patriotic. It's not about feeling good about yourself or your country but a willing to give up EVERYTHING that matters for the good of the country that makes a person patriotic.

Perhaps I should have chang... (Below threshold)
lowmal:

Perhaps I should have changed the title to "Patriot" instead of "Patriotism".

One can feel patriotism, but it means something altogether different to be a Patriot.

-Shawn

I understand that ... (Below threshold)
Smiles:
I understand that being against a war does not make you unpatriotic. Of course not, my feelings are (right or wrong) fighting in a foreign country (Vietnam/Iraq) is not worth one American life. What is unpatriotic is hoping your country loses any war or conflict it is in. That to me is the big difference.

Mag,

Don't take this as a personal attack. Just want to give you something to ponder.

During WW2 could a German have been considered patriotic if he undermined the war effort and helped Jews escape?

P.S.
In no way am I comparing any war the U.S. has been in with what the Nazi's did.




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