Is "Patriotic" a Bad Word?

I don’t know if it’s just me, my entire generation or maybe just the others who took that world lit class with me in college, but the word “patriotic” seems to be losing its positive connotation. At least in my own head, I often equate it with “obnoxious,” “prideful,” “quick to defend and/or fight.” But thinking about this July 4th and this blog and my recent experiences, I’ve realized I’m probably more patriotic than I think. And that’s ok with me because I’ve redefined it for myself.

Last weekend, I visited Texas for a friend’s wedding. Texas is where I’m from. I lived there from age 1.5 to 22. While in town, I got to spend time with friends who either live outside Texas now or did for a few years and have since moved back. We all agreed the time we are most patriotic about our own state (If you’re confused by the idea of being patriotic about your own state, visit Texas. You’ll understand almost immediately.) is when we are not living there.

This does not mean we parade around our new states wearing Texas-shaped sunglasses (Yes, they exist. Again, just visit and you’ll understand.) and reciting the Texas pledge of allegiance (yep). For me, it means Texas feels a little warmer, a little sunnier and friendlier here in Tennessee where I currently reside than it ever did when I was living in Texas.

This happened to me in regards to the U.S. while living in England. I tried to not draw too much attention to my Americanness–apparently the entire world does not consider the U.S. the greatest invention of all time–but inside me I finally realized what I loved about the country I came from. At the same time, or maybe a few months later, I began to understand that just as I loved the little things that made up the big thing that was my country that was home, so did my English neighbors love the little things that were the big thing that was their home that they graciously shared with me for a brief moment.

I became more internally patriotic by becoming more understanding of others’ patriotism. Feeling patriotic fills, at least momentarily, that universal desire for a home. Since we all yearn for a place of belonging and a sense of self, we are all patriotic.

So my fellow Americans, whether you like the sound of that word or not, today we will be patriotic because today we celebrate home.

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  1. Katie Axelson on July 4, 2011 at 3:15 pm

    Thank you for posting this, Andrea! This year I’ve been struggling with the idea of patriotism, nationalism, and American pride because I’ve been abroad and love the people, cultures, and atmospheres of other countries, too. But, you’re right, the United States is my homeland. Realizing this brings me some peace in singing patriotic songs and celebrating the US without writing off the other countries I love.


  2. Shellybell on July 5, 2011 at 11:41 am

    Great job Andrea…always love your thoughts and perspectives. We live in an incredible country, not perfect, but incredible just the same.

    Headed back to Texas after spending 12 days in the northwest. BEAUTIFUL country up here, but there’s no place like home…but then again, I think it has more to do with the peeps than the place. Oh, the heat!!

  3. RickC on July 11, 2011 at 2:27 pm

    I had the privilege to giving care this past weekend to one of our wounded warriors wounded in combat in Iraq a couple of years ago. He was badly injured and has had a lot to deal with over the past two and a half years and with this being his 3rd or 4th hospitalization in the past year or so. Of course I can’t give names or details due to confidentiality laws but let it be know HE and ALL of our wounded warriors and their families NEED OUR CONSTANT PRAYERS and GRATITUDE and ASSISTANCE whenever and wherever possible. Due to the nature of his injuries there is no possible way that he will ever rehabilitate out of them, these injuries will be with him until the day he graduates to the other side. And there are many more like him! Patriotic led to their wounds therefore the least we can do in our patriotism is to give them our love and care and concern whenever and wherever possible. They need it!

  4. bigsmen on July 16, 2011 at 10:43 pm

    First of all I like ur post ma’am its not bad or wrong in being patriotic. We owe allegiance to our own nation. Here in the philippines there are many patriotic people sad thing was they doNe it and expressed it in the wrong way. Does the END justifies the MEANS? Of course no. If we want change then let’s do it by starting to our self. Help our nation in carrying out its burden; Bayanihan or oneness in goal. That is true patriotism. Helping one another to make this nation a better place to live in

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