Rebekah Honeycutt

Light and Love be with you!

Essay: Patriotism or Pride

Patriotism or Pride?

                To declare pride for one’s country is the same as expressing patriotism for it.  Michael Parenti’s article, What does it mean to love one’s country?, asks an extremely difficult question.  An individual within a country hasn’t walked all of the land, they haven’t met every person, they don’t know the history of every area, and definitely have not been exposed to every culture that the country contains.  What this person has been exposed to are the areas in which they reside, the person’s they choose to call friend or family, the history their family holds, and the environment they have created.  Looking at a country in a smaller form, such as an individual life, this person can begin to analyze the things they take pride in and show patriotism towards.  To love one’s country can be best explained as loving one’s life, family, home, and personal experiences.


When thinking about a country, the first question that comes to mind is usually location.  Where is this country located?  A country is an area associated with a particular person.  If a person lives in a small town, naturally, they would be associated with that town.  What about a bustling city, a forest, or a house?  Michael states, “If we love our country, do we love even the ugly parts of it?” (Parenti 493).  Each person’s view on the terminology ‘ugly’ is varied through their own eyes, thoughts, and opinions.  A homeless man explained his anger over people leaving their trash sitting on tabletops at Canton Recreational Park in Waynesville, NC.  He asked, “Don’t they think about what would happen if a child picked up their left over alcohol in one of these cups?”  He went on to explain how he keeps his living space under the bridge next to the park as tidy as possible.  He puffed out his chest, and held his head high.  Anyone could tell that he was very proud of his living quarters.  Looking at his situation as an outsider, most people wouldn’t understand the pride he shows toward his home.  Some would go as far as to call his home ugly, sad or ignore the possibility of it being anyone’s home altogether.  Under a bridge is this homeless man’s country, the area he associates himself with, and he shows his devotion, patriotism, towards it.  Michael asks, “Do we celebrate and take pride in the urban and suburban blight, the crime-ridden drug-infested neighborhoods, the hungry homeless huddled in urine-stained doorways, the many beggars on the streets of certain cities, the shanty town and encampments under the freeways…and other such dispiriting things?” (493).  All of the items listed make up part of America.  These points may be viewed as dispiriting, or they can be perceived as an area for improvement.  Either viewing doesn’t change the fact that it exists.  An American should show pride and celebrate the area in which they have created.  At the same time, they should be aware of areas for improvement around them, and work diligently to assist in reconstructing and aiding those in need of support.  Lending another person a hand creates a personal experience that American’s can celebrate.


The second question that comes to mind when thinking about a country is how many people reside within it.  Using the definition of country mentioned above, how many people live in this house, town, or city?  When a civilian enlists in the military, he/she is willing to sacrifice what they must for their country. Michael states, “It might be that we can “love” whole peoples in the abstract because we feel some common attachment for being all one nationality, that is, all Americans” (493).  A soldier takes an oath of enlistment. The promise he/she makes is as follows:

“I, _____, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.” (“Oaths of Enlistment”)

This pledge takes all of the individual people within the United States of America and forms them together as one entity, as one complete family, Americans. This oath provides a clear demonstration of loving whole peoples due to a common attachment. This soldier’s country has millions of people within it.  Whereas some civilians may never swear in front of the government to provide loyalty to their own families, they do make a promise in another way.  A parent would make the same sacrifice for their family. A parent takes on the role of the government, or authority, of their household.  They take an unwritten vow to care for their family, and will surrender their own happiness for that of their children. This person’s country has considerably fewer persons within it.  No matter how big they feel their ‘country’ is, they feel responsible for it.  Both of these people are displaying patriotism, love of their country and willingness to sacrifice for it.  Both are also showing pride, not only in their own achievements, but in the achievements of the people that are connected to them.


History is portrayed by word of mouth, documented on records, and continues to be passed down from generation to generation.  In this day and age, simply clicking on a genealogy website can assist a person in finding information about their family’s past.  Michael states, “The odd thing about most superpatriots is how ignorant they are of most of [America’s] history. .. It would add more substance to their love of country.” (495).  A family’s history can add to their understanding of how they came to be who they are. The part that is more important is for an individual to understand themselves first.  When a person can comprehend who they are and why, then that person can begin looking at the others around them.  This realization can allow one to be proud, and encourages them to begin expressing that patriotism.

From birth people are taught by their parents, family, and friends how to respond to the environment around them.  As a child, mothers will chime warnings such as, “Don’t touch that, it’s hot”. Of course, curiosity will get the best of an inquisitive child, and the response is to touch the stove. It was hot. They will learn never to touch it again. People learn behavior patterns by watching the others around us that we admire and idolize.  Individuals are taught the beliefs of their family, and as they mature, the beliefs of others.  Michael asks, “Should we love our County for its culture?” (495).  The answer is yes.  The environments humans are placed in from birth until death shape them into who they become, how they perceive, and the way they operate daily.  Individual achievements educate people how to have pride in their selves, while disappointments coach them to have pride in others.


Michael shows great desire to understand how another individual thinks. He asks, “Our superpatriots love “America” not for its geographical and ecological wonders, nor out of any personal attachment to its vast and varied population, nor because of a deep and revealing grasp of its history and culture. What then?” (496). The answer is they love “America” for who they have become within the country in which they reside.  They love the family they have created, the friends they cherish, the job they do, the happiness they have fashioned within themselves.  This person defines their country as the area they are associated with. They show love and devotion to their home, their family, their past, and their environment. In true patriotic fashion, they are willing to sacrifice and defend these belongings to the end, because they are proud to be an American.


Cited Work

“Country.” The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language. 4th. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2000. Print. <;. “4. an area associated with a particular person”

Parenti, Michael. “What Does It Mean To Love One’s Country?.” Peace Review 15:4 (2003), 385-388. Rpt in Subject and Strategy: A Writer’s Reader. 11th Ed. Paul Eschholz. Boston. Bedford/ St. Martin’s. 2008, 492-497

United States. Army Center of Military History. Oaths of Enlistment. 2011. Web. <;. (Title 10, US Code; Act of 5 May 1960 replacing the wording first adopted in 1789, with amendment effective 5 October 1962).


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