A few months ago, my three children attended a BamaCarry meeting with my husband and me. We heard a great message from Greg Hopkins — author, lawyer and pro-Second-Amendment advocate — who shared about the dangers of “red flag” laws. I realize that my kids don’t really know what’s going on. Thus, they weren’t fully interested in the event, but they enjoyed eating dinner with and being around fellow 2A supporters. And what made me really proud was when we all stood up to say the Pledge of Allegiance. My children joined right in. And with her hand on her heart and facing the stars and stripes, my 6-year-old daughter was probably the loudest one in the group, saying the pledge clearly and proudly.
Our kids learned the pledge and say it every morning at school, but beyond that, we have often had talks as a family about our flag, the Pledge of Allegiance, “The Star-Spangled Banner,” our troops, our government, America … and patriotism. And I wholly believe in rearing children who respect our country.
Patriotism Is Not Divisiveness
This got me thinking back to a conversation I had about five years ago with a young friend who had recently graduated college. She didn’t believe the Pledge of Allegiance should be taught in schools. She thought it was completely stupid to pledge anything to a piece of material or to require groups of children to memorize and recite something that was potentially “offensive and divisive.” I was floored. Is this really what young people are learning and thinking nowadays — that appreciating our country is offensive and divisive?
If patriotism is offensive and divisive, couldn’t just about anything fall into that category? For instance, I don’t really like the idea that my kids have to be subjected to learning square dancing in school. Could I argue that children being prompted through a sequence of weird, synchronized dance movements by some overly enthusiastic caller to the beat of some atrocious country music is offensive and divisive too? But I digress…
Patriotism Is Not Isolationism
But honestly, what’s wrong with love of country? What’s wrong with being proud to be American and commemorating what we’ve been through, what we’re doing and where we’re heading? I’m not saying we’ve done everything right and we never struggle. Why can’t we show support and respect for our nation and the freedoms we have? Other nations do. Is patriotism fine for anyone as long as you don’t claim it for the United States?
Patriotism Is Not Rejection
All in all, patriotism is kind of like rooting for your team or being part of a family and recognizing and celebrating that. It doesn’t mean you get everything right all of the time. It doesn’t mean you’re better than everyone else or you’re perfect. But it does mean you offer your support and your respect — even when things aren’t going the way YOU want them to.
You don’t just give up on the things you care about. You don’t simply turn your back on something important. For example, if someone at work does something hateful, do you blame the entire company? What if several players on your favorite football team make a mistake? Do you burn all your memorabilia and choose another team? Or what if a family member goes to jail? Do you change your surname? If a group or a representative or any random American does something unfavorable, should we stomp on the flag, tear up the Constitution, blame the whole nation and abandon all hope?
No. We learn. We pick up the pieces. We press on. A few parts of the whole may not be the most pleasant, favorable or memorable, but that doesn’t mean we reject the good while attempting to overlook, avoid or remedy the bad.
And just so you know where I’m coming from: I am first generation born here in America. My mother and her family immigrated to the United States from Norway. And I still have a very large portion of my family there. But just because I love the USA doesn’t mean I hate everyone else or look down on them or think that I’m better or we’re better. And being grateful for my American birth and citizenship doesn’t make me automatically hate my Norwegian heritage or anyone else’s, for that matter.
Patriotism Is Not Visionless
Patriotism to me means we’re part of something — something bigger than just us. And it means we support and respect that because we want it to succeed … for everyone! Patriotism is not blind acceptance; it’s constant vigilance.
About Beth Alcazar
Beth Alcazar, author of Women’s Handgun & Self-Defense Fundamentals, associate editor of Concealed Carry Magazine and creator of the Pacifiers & Peacemakers blog, has enjoyed nearly two decades of working and teaching in the firearms industry. Beth is passionate about safe and responsible firearms use and enthusiastic about teaching others. She is certified as an instructor through SIG Sauer Academy, ALICE Institute, DRAW School, TWAW and I.C.E. Training and is a USCCA Certified Instructor and Senior Training Counselor.
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