The Importance of Patriotism… and Nationalism

By: Hayden Cunningham

The Unites States of America is the greatest country in the history of the world and is far better than any other country on the planet today.

Is that wrong to say? Is that offensive to other countries? Surely because I say we are superior, does that mean other countries are inferior? Do they not matter? Is their culture meaningless? Is this the same thing as saying we are racially superior to other countries?

To respond to all of those questions in one answer: No.

To define patriotism: It is the belief that your national has noble and true values. It is an appreciation for your country.

Having a love for your country is a very important thing. After all, there’s not a lot our country has in common. Our societal tensions have been rising. But the one thing we all have in common is that we are American. That is the one thing we should come together and appreciate. But when people kneel during the anthem in protest, it divides more than it unites.

To define nationalism: It is not about isolation, it is not about racism. It is not about imperialism or colonialism. Nationalism is the opposite of globalism. It means that America comes first.

Tribalism is a bad thing. Individualism is crucial to American society. But coming together as a group can in some ways be a good thing. Forming ‘tribes’ based off race, sex, or other qualities you are born into and cannot change (yes I just said you cannot change your sex) is wrong because it alienates others.

Nationalism can be a very bad thing as well. Too much nationalism ruins society, but just the proper amount can be a good thing. We see this with white supremacists. Having a feeling of superiority in your country can lead towards a hatred of immigrants, and a hatred of those who do not look like you. This makes America a little different than other countries in regard to nationalism because we do not have one homogeneous race and culture. Nationalism can very quickly become exclusionary if it goes to far. Your group identity should not matter in regards to race, ethnicity, or sex. It should matter in regards to your American creed that we all share.

Nationalism and patriotism are not opposites, bur rather they go hand-in-hand. Tens of thousands of Americans have died throughout history to defend the country, its flag, its people, and its values. Individuals can believe that our country should come first, while still appreciating and respecting the people and culture of other countries. After all, doesn’t your family come first before friends? And friends come first before strangers?

Yes, our country’s history has flaws. But so does every country. We should remember these flaws so that we never repeat them. We should not dwell on them. We must reflect more on what made America great so that we can appreciate its successes.

America has led the world in technology and success since its creation. It was fought for by men and women who were stubborn for freedom. We watched the railroad be built and planes take to the skies. We won wars, liberated cities, saved lives, and cured diseases. Our country has done more for the world than any civilization in history, and its flag has always served as a symbol of freedom to the world.

Being an American means to celebrate our country. Its to stop every July 4 for just one minute to be grateful. Its to cheer for our representatives in the Olympics. It means to celebrate the fact that we put OUR flag on the moon. Its to hope we prevail in all wars. Its to respect the office of the presidency and the constitution. Being an American means to always be curious, to seek for more, to not settle, to be a little stubborn, to reach for the stars, and to die fighting for what you believe in.

Now enjoy some pictures of our country’s rich history:

“Washington Crossing the Delaware,” by Emanuel Leutze
Photo Courtesy of the U.S. National Archives
Photo Courtesy of the National Museum of The USAF
Photo Courtesy of Famous Coast Guard Photographs
Photo Courtesy of the U.S. DOD
Photo Courtesy of the U.S. Marines
Photo Courtesy of the U.S. National Archives
DoD photo by Master Sgt. Cecilio Ricardo, U.S. Air Force/Released

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