Our View From Here

Perspectives of Five Women

Stars and Stripes

on July 7, 2011
I don’t consider myself to be terribly patriotic. I am grateful for the opportunities being a citizen of the US has afforded me but I daily take for granted the rights and privileges I have solely because I was born and live in this country. I will stand for the national anthem but I can’t claim to be shouting the lyrics from the rooftops (which may have more to do with my singing ability than any lack of patriotism). I’m also not afraid to criticize my government when I disagree with its policies, but in a way, I guess that could be considered a form of patriotism. We all know that in many countries around the world, citizens are not able to speak their mind or express a contrary opinion to government policies. Speaking out against the government and openly criticizing politicians and their policies is not only allowed, it’s assumed in our constitution. When you take a second to really think about the implications of that, you gotta admit it’s pretty darn cool. I mean, would you want to give someone permission to openly and vehemently criticize you? I don’t think I would.

There are a few patriotic quirks I seem to have. For example, I absolutely detest poor flag etiquette. I hate it when I see someone lowering the flag at night and letting it touch, and sometimes even drag, across the ground. I get incensed when someone just bunches up the flag rather than folding it properly. Even if a person doesn’t know how to fold a flag properly (which is ok – I don’t know how to either) at a minimum I think a person should drape it nicely over his arm rather than roll it in a ball and carry it under his arm. I’m also a stickler for proper flag placement. Darren told me he was driving by a McDonalds the other day and for whatever reason, the US flag was at half-staff, but the state flag and McDonalds flag were at their normal height. If the US flag is at half-staff, all flags need to be lowered. The thought that a McDonalds flag had a more prominent position than the US flag disgusted me more than the thought of eating McDonalds’ food, which says a lot.

I guess the best way to describe my patriotism is using the “little brother” analogy, where I can pick on my little brother all I want (that is, if I had a little brother) but if someone else does so in my presence, I will defend him. I’m not so sensitive as to not be able to consider valid, respectful criticism of my country. To the contrary, I appreciate someone who can respectfully articulate a complaint they have against the US and I will be much more willing to consider their point of view. But I remember when I was studying abroad in Australia and someone made a comment that had me seeing red.

By way of background, I studied abroad in Spring 2003, which is when the US invaded Iraq. Anti-American sentiment was at a high and I couldn’t admit to feeling too proud of my country at that point either. In the dining hall, students were allowed to make announcements about various activities that would be going on throughout the week. One student stood and announced that there would be a showing of a film (memory seems to recall that it might have been a Michael Moore film) and that it would help us all to understand, “why Americans are all so crazy.” Now, I’m the first to admit that Americans are crazy about a lot of things, but the manner and forum in which this student (who was Canadian) made this announcement really offended me. It was one of the few instances that I felt personally offended by what someone said about my country.

I guess my patriotism can be summed up as a quiet patriotism. I’m not necessarily the kind of person to festoon my abode with bunting and have a flag pole in my yard, nor do I wear red, white and blue for every patriotic holiday, but I like to think my patriotism is a more meaningful, genuine patriotism, rather than just window dressing.

From Google images

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