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Patriotism: ‘Working to live up to ideals country founded on’

I see many people proclaiming themselves to be patriots. They wear the American Flag lapel pin. They may have flag bumper stickers. Possibly they have actual American flags or Gadsden flags (Don’t Tread On Me), flying from their car or truck. The deeper into the election cycle we get, the more I see.

Go into any store and you will see red, white and blue themed goods of all descriptions, especially around Memorial Day and the Fourth of July. These are symbols of love of country, of patriotism. The word Patriot (uppercase intended) is also used in advertising. Choose almost any type of business and do a search, and you will likely find a company called Patriot. All of this started me wondering, what does patriotism really mean?

In the business world, it is a marketing tool. Somehow using the word infers that this company is more American than those others, that their products are more American. Never mind the fact that a lot of those products are made in China, Vietnam, Mexico, wherever.

In the political world, it gets more complicated. Some use the term as a bludgeon, inferring that they are the true patriots and if you do not think agree with them on everything, then you are not. Some use it more as an underpinning in their approach to laws and regulations.

To me, patriotism is love of country and the principles it was founded on. It is not worshipping any political party or any person. It is defending this land against enemies. It is working to live up to the ideals that this country is founded on. Those ideals stand there like a beacon that we have yet to reach.

I do not believe that one must be native born to be patriotic. In all our wars, immigrants have served honorably and shown how much it means to be in a country that was founded on the principle of freedom.

The men and women who went off to fight in World War I and World War II were patriots. They fought because they believed in our American ideals and knowing that if we did not fight on those foreign shores, we would be fighting on our own.

Those who stayed behind were also patriots. They suffered through hardship, and went to work in the factories and fields to keep our troops supplied. Those generations did the things that none of us since have been asked to do on such a scale.

Our Constitution, in the 1st Amendment, says that Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or abridging or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

One’s religion has no bearing on their patriotism. Those who peaceably protest to make change have every right to do so. That does not make them any less patriotic.

At any event you may go to where the national anthem is played, the crowd will stand. Men will remove their hats. Some will sing along. This is an outward display of patriotism. It is a display of love of country.

The people in these crowds are of all races, creeds, colors and places of birth. They love who they love, and they live as they choose to live. We share one common bond. We are all Americans.

We may disagree on how things should be done. But we should all be working to find the common ground, and make this a better and even stronger country.

Scott Perez is a Durango area-based former working cowboy, guide and occasional actor. He has a master’s in Natural Resource Management from Cornell University.