The Real Meaning Of Patriotism


“Patriotism” is a word that has received a lot of good and bad publicity lately however it is all in the definition of the word, what it means to be patriotic. Some people will argue that it is blind and everlasting love and support for your country, through right or wrong, never wavering. Patriotism calls forth images of flag waving citizens, but that isn’t all that it entails. However, patriotism is loving one’s country while maintaining the ability to see its flaws, call them out and then work to repair them.

Patriotism is defined by supporting your country. Everyone can agree on that part of the definition. People argue though that if a citizen finds fault with their country it is unpatriotic. However, this is when they’re being the most patriotic because they care enough about their country to tell it to shape up. They are exhibiting tough love, like they would a child who is acting out. The Iraq War is a great example of people acting patriotically, not just the soldiers who are actively involved but the civilians at home as well. Not everyone supports the war; it is widely unpopular in America. In 2004 however, if a citizen spoke out against the war they were immediately labeled unpatriotic for expressing an opinion that went against the active actions of their country. People who speak out are necessary though; they help keep a country in line and acting in a responsible accountable manner. They are being patriotic; they are concerned, active citizens who are taking a stand, giving feedback and caring about the perception of their nation.

Being patriotic isn’t just flag waving; it is being a responsible active citizen. Patriotism entails voting in elections so the country’s voice is heard. It entails acting in a manner that is perceived well world wide. The philosopher Primoratz defines patriotism as, “the love of one’s country (and polity) motivated, in part, by the fact that its one’s country, and expressed in a special concern for its welfare and that of its compatriots,” (446). Compatriot means a fellow citizen, a neighbor in a sense. The outpouring of support for Hurricane Katrina victims demonstrates the patriotic feelings of the United States more than hanging up a flag on Forth of July and saying the Pledge of Allegiance. It is demonstrating support for the well being of the nation. The nation can not be strong if its citizens are not strongly concerned for one another.

Patriotism is a dedication to the ideals of the United States, that all men are created equal, that everyone has a chance to succeed, that freedom of speech and religion are vital to the well- being of the nation. It is the implementation of these ideals, taking action to ensure these rights, even when it means that one is in the minority. It is listening to the voices that disagree with one’s point of view knowing that they will have a chance to speak. Patriotism is a sense of duty that the United States will be the best it can be, that we will all work together to make it great and keep it strong.


Patriotism is not loving one’s country right or wrong. Patriotism is the love of one’s country, because it is one’s country. It doesn’t matter if it does nothing great; citizens love it because it is their own. Patriotism is the devotion to the nation, and its causes. Citizens help each other because they are what make up the nation, not because they want it to be better, but because they are part of it. Patriotism is holding in criticism because it only hurts the view of the nation. It is devoting oneself to the cause, whatever it may be.

Eldredge was incorrect when she labeled opposing the Iraq War patriotic. Americans were right to call those who criticized the Iraq War unpatriotic. It did not help America’s standing in the world that even its own citizens would not support the war that the United States started fighting. It hurt America’s world standing and foreign support of the war. It gave the impression that America was trying to give away its problem to other nations so that it could pull out of an unpopular war. John Murtha, a member of Congress, called for America to pull out of Iraq in 2006. He was correctly labeled unpatriotic for questioning the tactics of the war (Jones). His opinion undermined the efforts the United States was making, and gave hope to the opposition. We’ve made great strides in Iraq since 2006, if everyone had listen to Murtha this progress wouldn’t have been made.

What I Learned

I learned that ambiguous words are hard to pin down. Often, it is not the technical definition that is in question but rather the common use in society. It is hard to find actual quotes to collaborate my opinion of the word because often the author is referencing an undertone or act. Finding any quote stating dissent was unpatriotic was difficult, even though many authors argued that dissent is patriotic, so obviously the idea that dissent isn’t patriotic is out there in society just hard to find on paper. Words are fluid in society, the meaning to me might not be the same meaning to my audience, I need to take that into account and give readers an idea of the context that I’m using the word in, not just assume that they have the same definition of the word that I do.


  • Jones, Tim. “Murtha: `And they call me unpatriotic’ Ex-GI’s anti-war stance recalls McGovern’s bid.” Chicago Tribune 22 Oct. 2006. 25 Jan. 2009 .
  • Primoratz, I. ‘Patriotism: A Deflationary View.’ Philosophical Forum 33.4 (Winter2002 2002): 443-458. Academic Search Premier. EBSCO. Chemeketa, Salem, OR. 30 Jan. 2009 .