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Definition on Patriotism - Research Paper Example

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When most people think of the word patriotism some common images probably come to mind. First is probably the flag of the United States. The symbolic meaning behind the red and white stripes, the field of blue and the fifty stars stands for things that can be called patriotic…
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Download file to see previous pages The eagle is strong, ferocious and majestic. This is how patriotic citizens of the United States view themselves and their nation. Finally, patriotism invariably is connected with support of the armed forces. These are the men and women that serve their nation every day. They are willing to put themselves in harm’s way for the defense of the country that they love. A good workable definition of patriotism then would simply be a love of one’s homeland (Bennett, 2008). While all of these symbols of patriotism are powerful in their own way, they do not capture the true meaning of patriotism. There are three key activities that define true patriotism. Patriotism is defined by education that teaches you about your rights, engagement that brings your rights as a citizen to life, and courage to stand and speak for what is truly in the best interest of the nation. The first key to being a patriotic citizen is education. Often, we only think of education as something that happens in schools. This type of formal education is vital for patriotic citizenship. Learning about the structure of the American government as outlined in the Constitution is an important first step. A basic understanding of the history of the documents that lead to the establishment of the United States of America and the current Constitution is essential if a citizen is to really be patriotic. Anyone can get misty-eyed at the sight of a bald eagle soaring through an azure sky superimposed over the image of the flag waving in the breeze. This is not true patriotism. A real patriot must know why the government works the way it does (Haynes, 2009). Patriotic citizens must know what their rights are or they may find themselves in a situation that they are loosing rights that they never even knew they had. Understanding important concepts found in the Constitution such as checks and balances, representative democracy and due process are essential for patriotism to exist because these ideas are the foundation that underlies the symbols of patriotism. All citizens need to know the content of the Bill of Rights and other Amendments to the Constitution. Without this academic knowledge, patriotism is nothing more than emotions generated by familiar symbols of the nation. Once an academic understanding of the rights of citizens has been obtained, it is then necessary for the patriot to transfer that knowledge to his or her daily life. It is important for the citizens of the United States to know what due process looks like in the real world so they can know if their rights have been taken away. They need to understand how Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Assemble allow them to do the things they do and say the things they say so that these privileges will not ever be lost due to apathy. An understanding of what Constitutional rights look like in real life allows people to participate in the next element of patriotism. Acquiring the education necessary for patriotism is not a passive process. In a formal setting such as school textbooks must be studied, homework must be completed and tests must be passed. This requires effort. Informal learning about rights and responsibilities of patriotic citizens requires effort as well. Much of this learning occurs while actually living life. That is why the act of engagement is so vital for patriotism. There are many different ways a person can engage in the political process. Patriotism requires citizens to engage on each of these levels. The first level is to meet legal ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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