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What Is Patriotism? How Do We All Keep It Alive?

By ADAM E. ZIELINSKI | Jul 03, 2019

Patriotism. What is it, exactly? Or better to ask: What is it to you?

Perhaps you’re a veteran of the armed forces, or an active duty member. Patriotism means service to our country. Duty. Honor. Sacrifice. All are important, and often taken for granted by those of us who have never put on the uniform.

Perhaps you’re a police officer, firefighter or medical professional. Patriotism means service to our community: to Protect and to Serve. These also are important, and again, sadly, often taken for granted by those of us who have never put on the uniform.

Perhaps you’re a public servant. Patriotism means service to the people: to execute the laws for We the People. Certainly these are important positions, and the headaches involved are often taken for granted by those of us who have never had to make tough decisions that will please few, and anger many more.

What about everyone else? Is it flying the flag on the Fourth of July? Or how about flying it every major holiday, or every day of the week, including Sunday? Is it draping your front porches in ornamental garb? Is it watching a war movie, perhaps “Saving Private Ryan,” in earnest? Is it loving thy country but disagreeing with thy government? Is it protesting for causes you believe in? Is it walking through your downtown and letting the scenery fill your imagination with a longing for something that is unexplainable?

Is it knowing how much New Jersey has sacrificed in our country’s history? How much time Gen. George Washington spent agonizing over how to manage and instruct a Continental Army that was at times incapable of anything but complaining of their circumstances?

Do we know how close we really came to losing it all? Do we even care?

“What is patriotism?” you ask. It comes in many forms, all noble if done in a virtuous manner. And what is virtue? It is that misbegotten term used by the ancients to describe a set of beliefs that good people should esteem to behold.

It is for the righteous. It is for justice. It is for restraint. And it is for patriots, of every stripe and every walk of life. Embrace these principles of our nation’s founding and you will invoke the eternal blessings of our shared good fortune.

There’s a reason why America survives. Because its beating heart – We the People – survives, in all of us together. Those other things – the many brutal, relentless, dark thoughts and doings of everyday life; the monsters of our nightmares – will seem a little less important and a little less scary when we remember we can overcome anything.

July 4, 1776 is just another day on the calendar, but remember that its meaning is with us every day. And as the fireworks give off their red glare and barbecues sizzle in the hot summer air, remember who we are, and what costs are paid every day to give us the lives we have.

None of us are perfect, but none are without choices. Strive to do better and to be better, whoever you are. Be virtuous and be friendly. Be charitable and be funny. Be brave and be brilliant. Be honorable. Be an American. Patriotism revels in it. Huzzah!

Adam E. Zielinski lives in Holgate.

 

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