Monday, May 30, 2005

Rethinking Patriotism

It's Memorial Day. Memorial Day is meant to be a day when Americans reflect upon the supreme sacrifice of those who have fought to "defend our freedom." This phrase "defend our freedom" is an interesting one because I hear it in connection with holidays like this all the time, but I still don't know exactly what it means. It is as if any military conflict can be justified as long as it can be remotely connected to "defending our freedom." Don't misunderstand, I like my freedom. The very fact that I can express an opinion on this web-log may be the result of "defending our freedom" somewhere.

This notion of "defending our freedom" appears to be intricately connected to patriotism. And the moment one calls into question this administration's motives for attacking Iraq, one is not just expressing what may be a minority opinion in our country at the moment, one's patriotism is called into question. I believe that it is possible for both those who favor military conflict in Iraq as well as those who question it to be patriots. Patriotism is not defined by marching lock-step in line with the current administration on every position they uphold. Rather, patriotism is defined by the deeply held belief that real freedom makes it possible to live in relative peace and security whether one is a member of the NRA or the Sierra Club.

When I see veteran's marching with pride in their uniforms three sizes to small, I see a patriot. When I see a protester standing outside the gate of the White House denouncing America's involvement in this or that war, I see a patriot. I'm glad to live in a country where there is room for both.


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