I first remember the feeling when I was 8 or 9 years old. At a swim meet, during the national anthem, standing with my hand over my heart, I felt an overwhelming emotion that I didn't understand. I felt full of life and something more. I was happy to be me, living the life that I was. And I felt it even more when I looked at that red, white and blue flag. When I asked my mother about it later, she said simply, "what you felt was patriotism, sweetie."
Love of home and country.
On this, our Independence Day, I feel compelled to write about what patriotism means to me now at 35, with the naïveté and innocence of 8 long past.
As a Democrat and a Liberal my patriotism is strangely and frequently questioned. It's questioned by a large portion of the conservative population. It's been questioned directly and indirectly by members of my extended family, old acquaintances from high school in long ranty emails ("I don't approve of your politics"), tee shirts, GWB, random bloggers on the Internet, and Ann Coulter (OK, she just labeled all of us Liberals traitors. Still, I refuse to link to the book and possibly help her sell one)
Labeling liberals and Democrats as unpatriotic is a fun pass time for many. We tend to disagree with the current administration on just about everything: Iraq, the right to privacy, domestic policy, terrorism, global warming, and the economy. Oh and torture.
We (Liberals) don't agree with the status quo and we won't keep our mouths shut about it. Darn that pesky First Amendment. John Adams had the right idea with all those anti-sedition laws.
If we don't wear a flag pin on a daily basis and slap tacky yellow ribbons and magnetic flags on the back of our Prius's, we must be horrible people. Personally, I have too much respect for my flag to stick it on my bumper. The flag belongs in a place of honor, not next to a black and white decal of Calvin peeing on the ground.
This country belongs to all of us - Republicans, Independents, Democrats, and every other party under the sun. If you don't agree with our politics, good for you. But don't expect us to stop voicing opinions because they differ from yours. And don't you dare accuse us of not loving this country because we don't approve of a war we shouldn't have gotten into in the first place.
Our country has a nice long history of debate and disagreement. Hell, Americans "disagreed" themselves into the American Revolution. Or the American War of Independence, depending on whether you're American or British. Disagreement over our current war - in Iraq - is leading to a nice big rebellion of change. Change that will sweep a number of Democrats into office this Fall.
What patriotism means to me is still love of country. Only as an adult, that love isn't blind. I would die for my country, yes. But I love my country enough to want to change the things that I don't like. I don't like where our country is going and so I write about it; I talk about it; I scream it from my rooftop. As an American, it's my right to do so. It's my right to disagree. After all, disagreement is what started this grand old experiment we call the United States of America.
Sometimes a little rebellion is a good thing.
Going forward in this election season, let's try to remember that we're all on the same side and we ultimately want the same thing: a better country. America is an idea not a political party. So from one patriot to another,
Happy Independence Day.
Why do I suddenly have the urge to go dump a pitcher of iced tea in my swimming pool?