Thursday, June 28, 2007

Patriotism

This news story made my blood boil. The article is rather short, so you can read it yourself, but the headline punned "U.S. Patriotism is Flagging" while the article leads thusly:

Fewer Americans are showing their colors these days.

A new survey finds 62 percent of Americans display the flag at home, in the office, or on their car. That's down from 75 percent in August 2002, a year after the 9/11 attacks.


It continues with statistics about percentages of republicans and democrats who respond to a survey as saying they are "very patriotic" and concludes with statistics of the percentage of different demographic groups who say they display the flag.

My question; since when has displaying the flag had anything to do with patriotism? Allow me to be disingenuous for a minute. My good friends Merriam and Webster define patriotism as "love for or devotion to one's country." Their definition says nothing of flags.

The flag of the United States of America is, by definition, an important symbol of our nation, and should be treated with respect. The mindless, jingoistic displaying of the flag, such as on an automobile or a lapel pin, only serves to demean the symbol. Likewise the many establishments that fly the flag from their business premises but then fail to properly illuminate it at night.

As I write this I have a copy of The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States of America in my breast pocket. I get it out every once in a while because it is, especially The Declaration, truly inspiring prose. I swore an oath to protect and defend this country and the constitution when I became a commissioned officer. I have a certificate on my wall from the President of the United States that reads "that reposing special trust and confidence in the patriotism, fidelity and abilities of Matthew R. Ringel I do appoint him, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, an Ensign...(emphasis added)". I considered it an honor when I was chosen to raise the flag on NOAA Ship THOMAS JEFFERSON during it's commissioning ceremony as an Ensign serving aboard. But I have never, personally, displayed the flag from my house or car, or any other property personally belonging to me.

So, according to this news article, I am unpatriotic.

2 comments:

Gretchen said...

I couldn't agree with you more. On a semi-related note, I can't hear the word "freedom" without wincing anymore because it seems to have been hijacked by the White House and Republicans in general in relation to the Iraq war. It's been over-used to the point where for me it's lost all meaning pertaining to its true definition and is now just nothing more than an excuse for the war used by the most flag-wavin' Republicans. I don't think this makes as much sense as I'd like, but I hope you get my gist.

Amica Curiae said...

i didn't know you were an ensign... einseign... einstein? oh you know - whatever wesley crusher was... ahhh wesley... i think i will persue wil wheaton's blog now...