This entire week you will see people wearing all varieties of red white and blue, decorating with the stars and stripes, and even making menus to reflect our nation's colors. People screaming "'merica!" and blowing up fireworks. People attending parades and waving flags. This is patriotism, right? Well, no. Back when I was teaching a high school government class I read an article by Lawrence Reed that changed my perspective on what true patriotism is.
Freedom—understanding it, living it, teaching it, and supporting those who are educating others about its principles. That, my fellow Americans, is what patriotism should mean to each of us today.
The article, written in 2003, make a great case for true patriotism and warns about the dangers of false patriotism. I am weary of political debates in which the sides claim to have America's best interests in mind and claim that the others just hate her and want to see her burn. Look back at history; the founding fathers were passionate about their beliefs and debated vehemently with those who disagreed. Each saw their vision for the future to be the best. That has been the case throughout our history and continues today.
I propose that this Independence Day we lay aside our differences and celebrate the freedom we have to share those opinions. We have much to be concerned about, but we also have much to be thankful for. We live in a society in which we can openly speak and not go to jail. We can flaunt our political opinions on our shirts and the bumpers of our cars. We can write about and post about our beliefs on social media. We can travel around the country and visit monuments, landmarks, and museums celebrating our history.
How can you be patriotic this Independence Day? Spend some time this week or month learning about those who fought for our freedom. This is not only the founding fathers, although they would be good place to start. Learn about those who fought for civil rights and equality. Learn about the hero scientists who created medicines and vaccines that have saved countless lives. Learn about those who invented things that drove American industry and made us the superpower we are today. In short, celebrate freedom.
Below are a few of my favorite books about Americans and stories that are worthy of getting to know. The links are to Amazon, but if you can buy it at your local independent book store that would be even better.
"A jack of all trades is a master of none, but oftentimes better than a master of one."