"Patriotism consists not in waving the flag, but in striving that our country shall be righteous as well as strong."

James Bryce

It is fitting on the 246th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence to reflect on what it means to be an American patriot.    

Survey any random group of Americans and you’ll hear; “Love of country.”, “Serving in the military”, “My country, right or wrong”, “Being ready to die for the country”, “Obeying the law”, ”Criticizing or peacefully demonstrating when I believe the government is wrong”, and “Supporting our troops”.  

Neither such predictable catchphrases nor displays of red, white and blue flags and buntings, mechanically reciting the Pledge of Allegiance and standing for our National Anthem, while exhibiting respect for the flag and anthem, can define someone as a patriot.  Similarly, chants of “USA!  USA!” commonplace at international sporting events and political rallies falls short of qualifying one as an American patriot.

The former president liberally sprinkled the word “patriot” into speeches and Tweets as a means of bolstering the egos of those he was trying to impress or his political supporters or to convince others to do his bidding; as he did on January 6th, 2021 telling his Vice President, “You can either go down in history as a patriotor you can go down in history as a pussy.”  The mob which bought into his stolen election fiction and then violently stormed the Capitol were conned into believing doing so was their patriotic duty. 

If our fragile Republic is to survive, patriotism must stand for more than jingoism, displaying national symbols or the pursuit personal or partisan political ambitions.

Patriotism needs to reflect an unwavering allegiance to the Constitution, preservation of the ideals on which our country was founded, respect for our democratic institutions and, where members of the military and those holding public office are concerned, loyalty to their oaths of office, even in the face of personal danger, public or political ridicule or reelection concerns.

How few of today's politicians would have the courage and character to "pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor." to do what is right for our republic as did the fifty-six signors of the Declaration of Independence?