Tea Parties, a Nazi medal and the real meaning of Patriotism
What is a Patriot?
What does he or she look like?
How do they act?
What do they believe?
Recently the word has been co-opted by the right wing and considerably distorted from its original meaning. Many on the Tea Party side refer to themselves and other like minded individuals as “Patriots”, as if there were a set of requirements one has to meet to be rightly labeled with the term.
There’s even a group called Tea Party Patriots.
But what is true Patriotism?
While it’s probably true that many of the Tea Partiers can rightfully be called Patriots, the fact is true patriots are not just right wing Christians who don’t like Barack Obama. In fact, I would say a respect for national leadership is a common mark of a Patriot.
Patriots are right or left, male or female, young or old, white or black, rich or poor.
The dictionary definition of Patriot is as follows:
/ˈpeɪtriət, -ˌɒt or, especially Brit., ˈpætriət/ Show Spelled[pey-tree-uht, -ot or, especially Brit., pa-tree-uht] Show IPA
a person who loves, supports, and defends his or her country and its interests with devotion.
a person who regards himself or herself as a defender, especially of individual rights, against presumed interference by the federal government.
Nowhere in this definition are conditions placed on who and who can’t be considered a Patriot. Aside from ardent love for one’s country, there are none.
So what does all this half to do with a Nazi medal?
The medal you see above was given to my grandfather by a Nazi POW during World War II. My grandfather served in the Canadian Navy. The prisoner asked for some chocolate and my grandfather offered to trade some chocolate for the medal. Although he ended up bringing the poor sap baker’s chocolate, he got the medal and our family got a piece of history.
My grandfather served proudly in the war. I consider him a Patriot of the finest order. To this day he loves Canada dearly and I appreciate his efforts in instilling that love in me.
Even that Nazi soldier was probably proud to be German and could be considered a Patriot in his own right.
During World War II, American patriotism was alive and well and NOT exclusive. Everyone who believed in the Stars and stripes was encouraged to do their part to assist in the war effort…and they did.
Post 9/11 there was a strong patriotic wave where all Americans were encouraged simply to show pride in being American. As a wounded nation we stood strong together.
Patriotism is so woven into the national fabric of both the United States and Canada that it features prominently in our national anthems.
From O’ Canada:
Our home and native land!
True patriot love in all thy sons command.
With glowing hearts we see thee rise,
The True North strong and free!
From far and wide,
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.
From the Star Spangled Banner:
O! say can you see by the dawn’s early light,
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming
You don’t get much more patriotic than hailing a flag before you go to bed at night. The Stars and stripes is often considered the mark of American patriotism and for good reason: It symbolizes the best things about this country.
The Canadian anthem actually includes the word Patriot in its lyrics. I’ve always loved the line “We stand on guard for thee” because it reminds me of what true patriots should do: Do what is necessary to protect the strong principles and freedoms upon which the country was founded and upon which it prospered.
So let’s set the record straight once and for all:
A Patriot loves his country. ANYONE who loves their country regardless of age, religion, political leaning, gender, ethnicity or anything else has the right to call themselves a Patriot and no one can ever take that from him.
Every man, woman and child the world over whether American, Canadian, German, British and so on has the right to love their nation and support it.
It will never be taken from us. It can never be taken from us. Not by anyone. Not at any time.
Always be proud.