Still feeling mixed feelings after another Memorial Day. Feelings about my own service, the loss of Brothers; the direction of our Republic and the fractious society within. Posting snippets of an article from The Angry Staff Officer:
Back again to the soft May sun of the Ohio day. The birds chirp in the background and now the veteran’s voice is rising, in strident tones, and I am shifting uncomfortably in my seat because his talk smacks of nationalism and jingoism. But the audience loves it. They love being told that there is a divide between true patriots and the rest of the country. They love hearing that this is the greatest nation in the world that can do no wrong. They love being able to heap admiration and praise onto the 1% of those who’ve served without having to take the time to deeply analyze why those young men were bleeding in Vietnam in the first place. Because this version is simple. Because this definition of patriotism is black and white, or, I suppose, red, white, and blue. They know where the lines are, and they can say that they support the true patriots.
It is a very seductive way of thinking, as I know, since I once viewed service and conflict along those same lines.
Patriotism and love of country are noble things. They inspire civic virtue, that which our Republic requires to survive. But love of country does not mean accepting the United States at face value; it means always working towards making the country match its ideals of freedom, justice, and equality. Sometimes that means standing up and saying that things are wrong or disordered, which can be unpopular.
And the money shot: In the end, “patriot” becomes yet another label we use to define our world view, which cheapens both the word and its meaning.