What Does it Mean to Be a Patriot?

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Patriots are those who have a love for their country and take pride in the nation, even if their loyalty results in the sacrifice of their own life or requires them to speak out against their own government’s actions. Some patriots can be outspoken and unabashedly loyal to their country, while others display their pride differently based on their individual beliefs and experiences. The meaning of the term can vary depending on the state of affairs of the nation, political leadership and general loyalty felt by citizens toward their country.

1 Patriotism Defined

Patriots remain loyal to their country, passionately demonstrating a love for the country as a whole regardless of government affairs. For many, identifying as a patriot gives them a virtuous sense of belonging and community. Patriots often feel called to fight for the overall welfare of their country through words or actions. They may also make personal sacrifices to improve the health and well-being of the country.

2 Evolution of Patriots

Patriotism was discussed throughout the 1700s, and continued to make its way into political discussions and other verbal expressions well into the 20th century. After that, common usage of the term waned. The country experienced a resurgence of patriotism in the late 1980s with the growth of communitarianism, which promoted individual responsibility for the betterment of the community and nation. Today, the term continues to describe a deep-seated love and devotion for country.

3 Patriots in Opposition

Patriots do not necessarily openly agree with government and might be quite vocal in their opposition of government actions. As a July 2008 "Forbes" article points out, more citizens may identify as a patriot during times of political unrest or instability. War in particular, more than any other political or social situation, tends to cause more citizens to identify as a patriot. However, those feelings of patriotism are often fleeting for a large majority of citizens, especially when they do not feel their country is acting appropriately during times of war or when there are large numbers of wartime casualties.

4 Modern Patriots

During periods of war or terrorism, modern patriots are compelled to speak out against government policies or actions that do not lead to the best situation for the nation as a whole. Other more simple acts of patriotism are openly displaying the country’s flag or signing up to serve in the armed forces. Veterans of war are often considered the ultimate patriots for risking or giving up their lives to fight for the betterment and safety of the nation.

Amy Pearson earned dual bachelor's degrees in management and horticulture. She is a licensed elementary teacher for kindergarten through sixth grades. Pearson specializes in flower and vegetable gardening, landscape design, education, early childhood and child development.