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Who Is A Patriot?

Updated on April 23, 2013

The word patriot has been bandied about quite a bit in the recent past, especially in the political arena. I saw the term used today and it got me to wondering: Who exactly is a patriot?

I never served in the military. Can I still be a patriot? Maybe, apparently there are a lot of patriots who never served in the military, folks such as Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Dick Cheney, Karl Rove, and Newt Gingrich to mention a few.

I don’t wear a flag lapel pin. Maybe I’m not a patriot. The wearing of the flag lapel pin was started by President Nixon upon the suggestion of H.R. Haldeman. Reportedly Haldeman had noticed Robert Redford wearing one in The Candidate and suggested Nixon might want to do the same as a response to Abbie Hoffman and people of that ilk who were wearing the flag on jackets or as articles of clothing. Nixon liked the idea and had all of his aides do likewise. Then it went away until 9/11 when it was taken up by President Bush and his aides. A large number of Fox news anchors also started wearing flag lapel pins while ABC News prohibited its reporters and anchors from doing the same. President Reagan didn’t wear one so, I think I’m probably still okay – but if Colbert starts wearing one…

I don’t own a gun, what if they call up the militia? I’ll be alright; I have friends and neighbors with extra guns so I think I can still be a patriot.

I own a foreign car. Uh-oh, I can hear Bob Seger singing “Like A Rock” right now. I’m on my third Honda, great car, good gas mileage; but I’m good, I also own a Jeep. I know Chrysler is a multi-national corporation, but Jeep has to be made in America. Right?

I am not a member of any evangelical Christian denomination. I don’t even go to church. I believe one’s relationship with God is personal and doesn’t require an organized structure. If I had to label myself it would probably be as deist so, I guess that’s it, I’m not a patriot. Wait a minute, weren’t there some Founding Fathers who were deists? People like Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Benjamin Franklin, and Thomas Paine, to list a few. If those guys can be deists and still be patriots then I guess I’m still good.

I shop at Wal-Mart. What can be more patriotic than that?

So who is a patriot?

I like Samuel Johnson’s definition: “A patriot is he whose publick conduct is regulated by one single motive, the love of his country; who, as an agent in parliament, has, for himself, neither hope nor fear, neither kindness nor resentment, but refers every thing to the common interest.”

That’s exactly what I think this country, this society, is missing today; people working for the common interest. There are too many niche groups, public interest groups, PACs, agendas and about fifty other things. There are too many people working for self. We are “We the People,” we need to start acting like it. Our leaders need to begin leading as if they knew what it meant.

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