MILLINOCKET, Maine, October 19, 2104 — America during the 1950’s was fertile ground for patriotism. Only a decade after WWII, people were thankful to be done with that conflict and thankful that America had done its part to end the war. School days started with the Pledge of Allegiance, American history was taught, and war heroes were lauded. We had well deserved pride in our accomplishments. The American flag was saluted and displayed in abundance.
As the 1960’s started, the death of a President and involvement in a distant war that never had clear-cut goals began to erode American patriotism. By the end of the 1970’s, patriotism was being displaced by doubt and suspicion of governmental activities.
The 1980’s and 90’s were largely prosperous times for America, but the pride-of-country philosophy was giving way to a newer global awareness.
The millennium came upon us with a vicious attack by a new kind of enemy. For a short time, patriotism was back in vogue, but international involvements soon pushed it into the background. Now, American patriotism seems to have been left to a small core of individuals who struggle to preserve their place on the American landscape.
Recently Oprah interviewed actress and singer Raven Simone, who expressed her desire to be referred to as “American” rather than other epithets that could be put upon her. Oprah was visibly disturbed and chided Raven with, “Oh, girl, don’t set up Twitter on fire. Oh, my lord. What did you just say?”
And set Twitter on fire she did. Raven was accused of being a traitor to her race, among other unkind comments. In a way, Raven was expressing her patriotism by refusing labels other than the one she felt was most important.
It is the combined influence of good and honest people that has crafted the American experience. It is unnecessary to devise categories that too often put people at odds with one another. We all want the same things: to live in peace and to have a good life. If patriotism is defined as defending what we all want, then we should most definitely embrace it and be proud of it.
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