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“Patriotism: A Personal Reflection.”

Georgia Military College Prep School held an essay contest in honor of Patriot Day, “Patriotism:  A Personal Reflection.”  This essay contest is held in conjunction with GMC Prep School’s observance of 9/11 and as the title suggests, the 500 word essay is to be personal in nature, essentially answering the question, “What does it mean to be a patriot?”   Pictured are the essay winners, Calli McMullen and Jacob Kauzlarich with GMC Presidnet LtGen William B. Caldwell, IV, GMC President and LTC Pam Grant, GMC Principal.

Winning Essays

By Calli McMullen

What is the worth of a country without its people? What is the worth of a body of people that convene for no common purpose? These are the questions that traverse my mind as I steadily walk towards that tombstone— my Korean War Veteran’s tombstone— the resting place of my devout Grandfather. My Grandfather— the product of our nation’s passionate and powerful military— a man who utilized the opportunity to strive for our country, not out of selfish ambition, but for his adoration for the land that we stand upon, and his endearment for the people whom are all members of a national fraternity bound together by one ideal: Patriotism.

Millions of men and women make the decision to give up their lives for a higher purpose beyond themselves so that we, as a country, may live in comfort. These men and women, just like my Grandfather, accepted their obligation as a military to relinquish themselves for the continuation of the dream that we civilians live.

Even though many of us may understand the reality of our service members, we must realize that as American civilians, we too have an obligation. We are charged with the responsibility of upholding true patriotism— an ideal that travels well beyond hosting barbeques in July and waving flags at a motorcade—an ideal that glides past firework shows at the lake and missing a day of school or work to celebrate. True patriotism accomplishes her goal when we, the people of this nation, realize her worth— when we notice her as an opportunity to appreciate and incorporate a national civic-mindedness into our lives for the purpose of expressing a desire to nurture our country, and our brothers and sisters. True patriotism accomplishes her goal when we, the keepers of our nation, remain passionate with her— when we utilize her as our reason to become zealous and prideful of the values that we stand and fight for together as a harmonious symphony.  True patriotism accomplishes her goal when we, the future of our nation, recognize her for who she really is— when we surpass superficial comprehensions of what it means to hold a nationalistic view so that we celebrate, not for the enjoyment of the moment, but for the remembrance of our past, so that we may appreciate who and where we are today.

All of us, whether we are members of the military, or whether we are civilian citizens, are entrusted with a responsibility: the responsibility of having an appreciation for our country. All of us, regardless of faith, and regardless of political party, are allocated a common purpose: the purpose of bettering society by engaging in pursuits of national philanthropy. We are secured together, not by land, or geographical location, but by our shared love and devotion to one another. It is our duty to carry our attitudes and actions in a way that express true patriotism. It is our honor to be American patriots.

By Jacob Kauzlarich

Patriotism has been in America since the beginning.  It is the driving force that has led America to win wars.  Americans define patriotism differently.  For some people, it only goes as far as lighting off fireworks and grilling juicy hamburgers on the Fourth of July.  Patriotism means more to me since my dad was in the military.  For me, patriotism means sacrifice, hope, and standing up for what you believe in.

I feel sacrifice is the main component in patriotism. Since my dad was in the military, I had to sacrifice him going to my sporting events, being home on my birthday, and kissing me goodnight while he was deployed.  There was also the moving aspect of the military.  Moving in the military isn’t a simple move into a different neighborhood.   Moving usually entailed relocating to a different state.  The physical aspect of moving wasn’t the difficult part.  It is moving to a new place while hoping to make friends and gaining acceptance, but also knowing all too well that in a year or two you would be leaving again and sacrificing your new friendships. 

I think patriotism also means having hope.  When my dad was deployed I could only hope and pray that he did not get hurt.  Since anything can happen in war, I hoped he would come home safe, alive, and in one piece.  During my various moves, I hoped that I could fit in with the culture of my new school and make new friends like the place I had just left.  I also hope that we do not get attacked on American soil again.  I was born a month after 9/11 happened, and I have seen enough documentaries to know what had happened on that day.  I know it was horrible and thousands of people died.  The terrible attack also started the Global War on Terrorism.  Hope is the only feeling that can stay with you even through the most challenging times.

Finally, I think patriotism requires a person to stand up for what they believe in.  I can speak about what I believe in and not get in trouble.  Not everyone has to think that ice cream is a great way to celebrate earning a new job.  Diversity is what helps make up America and the Constitution guarantees that Americans can have their own thoughts on issues and how the government is ran.  Everyone is allowed to be different and have his or her thoughts.  They are allowed to vote for whom they want in office and they can write to their congressmen on issues they feel are important.  America is a very diverse country and it is the diversity that helps create a better country.

Different people show patriotism differently.  Sacrifice is a major part in patriotism whether it is big or small. Hope can always be present even when times are difficult.  Standing up for what you believe in is important for it betters the country.  Patriotism is the driving spirit of America.

Runners Up
By: Andrew Barnes

What does patriotism mean?  I think patriotism is the love and respect that we have for our country.  We can show our patriotism in many ways.  One way that we can show our patriotism is to be thankful for the things that we have such as the freedoms that we are given by our Bill of Rights and our Constitution.  For example, we are given the freedom of speech, the freedom of religion and the right to vote.  We show our patriotism too when we obey our laws.  Also, we show our patriotism when we learn about our nation’s history, about our culture, and about our traditions.

Another way that we can show our patriotism is to show our respect for our nation’s flag.  Our nation’s flag is a symbol of our history, and we should honor our flag.  If I ever see a flag that is being taken down, I would stop and stand at attention.  Also, when the flag is being raised, I would also stop and stand at attention.  If I am ever at an event, like a sports event, and the flag passes by me, I would stop and stand at attention.  When I think about our nation’s flag, I also think about our national anthem.  While our national anthem is played at any event, I would stand at attention and place my hand over my heart.  I would do all of these things to show my love and respect for my country.  When I think about our flag and the national anthem, I think about how lucky we are to live in a country where we as Americans have so many rights and freedoms that other people in other countries wished they had.  When we honor our flag and our national anthem, we are also showing our patriotism.

We also show our patriotism when we learn about our history, our culture, and our traditions.  We learn about all of these things in school which helps us have a greater love and respect for our country.  We also learn about our history, culture, and traditions from our family members.  Finally, we can learn about our history, culture, and traditions by visiting historical places.  Even when we visit places like the Old Capitol Building and the Old Governor’s Mansion in Milledgeville, we are learning about our history and that helps us have a greater love and respect for our country.

Patriotism also mean being loyal to our country.  We can be loyal to our country by supporting our American soldiers and our veterans.  The American soldiers are risking their lives every day so that we can have freedom.  In fact, when I think about it, I think that I live in a country that even though you have many laws, I feel like I have a lot of freedom because of the laws.  Also, in times of war, many people show their patriotism by joining the Armed Forces.  The soldiers are sometimes called the “Ultimate Patriot” because they may eventually give their lives to defend our freedoms.  The 9/11 attack was recorded as the worst attack in United States history.  On 9/11, many people, including First Responders, died trying to protect and save others who were attacked.  These were true patriots.

By: Polly Rose Baugh

Patriotism can be displayed in many different ways.  A true patriot loves our country with all his heart and soul and is always proud to be an American.  Also, a true patriot is willing to serve in the military, especially in times of war and is also respectful to all leaders, both military and civilian.   Helping in our community is another great way to show patriotism.  Patriotism is more than just flying our flag.

Having pride, loving and honoring our country are true signs of a patriot.  We live in the greatest country ever!   We should be so thankful for our freedom and so proud that we can be or do anything if we try hard enough.  America is a young country with many great accomplishments.  We have achieved many victories at great wars which stopped the spread of communism.  We also explored the frontier of space and sent the first man to walk on the moon, and are now exploring other planets.  In addition, Americans have invented countless technological marvels such as the telephone, the computer and the combination of the two – the smart phone!  We should all be extremely proud of these American accomplishments.

Being a proud patriot of our country should also being a supporter of our military.  Our soldiers risk their lives for us every single day.  We should always respect and support the men and women of the military.  Even today, in the Middle East, many of our brave troops are fighting to keep the threat of radical Islam away from us.  They fight every day to keep us free and independent.  Next time you see someone who is currently serving or is a veteran of our military, be a true patriot and thank them for their service and all they have done to make this the greatest country in the world. 

Community service is another way to show your patriotism.  Many people think that being a patriot is only cheering on America.  Cheering for and helping out in your local community is also patriotic.  Keeping our streets, parks and neighborhoods clean will make all of us proud of our community.  Other ways we can help in our community are helping at the food pantry, soup kitchen, homeless shelters or animal shelter.  We can even go to other communities to help out.  The world is our community, so we should help out wherever we can and be true patriots. 

Being a patriot doesn’t mean wearing red, white and blue every day, having a flag in your front yard or placing a bumper sticker on your car.  Being a patriot means loving our country and being proud of all our great accomplishments.   Being a patriot means honoring our military members and being thankful for their many sacrifices.  Being a patriot means working hard to make your local community a better place for everyone who lives there.  I am a very proud American, a young patriot and I hope I will always make my country proud.

By: Hudson Caldwell

Patriotism to me isn’t just fighting for our country or doing projects to help out the community.  Being a patriot is loving the soil we walk on.  Because we are American’s we should enjoy the rights and all the freedoms we have because of all the soldiers that have fought to make this country free.  But you don’t have to go out and fight for your country.  There are different ways to be a patriot while staying in the borders of America.  Here are a few ways to love your country.

One of the ways to love your country is to vote.  Voting is important because without voting, one person could rule all of America.  But by having the right to vote, we get to choose who we think is fit to be the President or be in the government.  Think about this.  If we didn’t vote we could have had a dictator or still have a slave based economy.  We know that would not sit well with present day America.  All in all, everyone should vote so the people that are voted in will best fit the American culture and people.

But the right to vote isn’t the only freedom we have.  We also have the right to bear arms.  That is the second Amendment of the Constitution that we all love and adore.  Without the right to bear arms, we would not be able to stop those crazy people that want to take our freedoms away.  BUT GUESS WHAT TERRORISTS, WE ARE KEEPING OUR FREEDOMS!  (Can I get a Hooah?)  The right to bear arms helps all those people who like to go out into the woods and hunt.  But some people want to put limits on that freedom.  Personally, I support the right to bear arms.

Another way to be a good patriot is to be a good law abiding citizen.  Being a law abiding citizen means you do what the law has stated us to do. The Constitution was created by our founding fathers who wanted the best for our country (“In order to form a more perfect union, and establish justice, ensure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our prosperity”).  Hooah! Being a law abiding citizen means living by these rules.  The Constitution and rights are there so that we aren’t like rampaging savages, but instead, we are civilized and well-mannered citizens (well, most of us). 

The Americans before us that started the Constitution spent their time and effort, blood, sweat, and tears just so we can have the freedoms we have today.  But don’t put our freedoms aside.  Use them, go buy a gun, or go give a speech.  Use the freedoms we have but use them in a good way.  Don’t go causing problems.  We already have enough on our hands.  We should love the soil we walk on because it makes us free.

By: Rylee Craft

“And so, my fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you; but what you can do for your country.”  -John F. Kennedy

President John F. Kennedy said this during his presidential inauguration in 1963. What I understood this to mean was do not think of all the things that your country can provide you with, but think of all the things you can do for your country and the people in it.
Patriots are people who love their country and will do anything for their country no matter how big or how small. You do not have to run for president of the United States of America or join the military to be considered a patriot, you can do anything as long as you show pride and love towards the country that you live in.

We are a free country, we have the freedom to go to school where we want, practice whatever religion we choose, and be whatever we want to when we grow up.

We were not just given that freedom when we became a country, we had to fight for it. Still today men and women are fighting to keep us free. These people pretty much sum up patriotism in my opinion. These people are willing to pay the ultimate sacrifice to keep our country free. These men and women love their country so much they will fly across the globe to wherever they are needed.

Patriotism has a lot to do with respecting your country. Little things like saying the pledge or not letting the flag touch the ground may seem like nothing but mean a lot to other people. The flag symbolizes what America is, the land of the free and home of the brave, and when you do everything you can to respect it you are respecting your country in a major way.

Patriotism is not something you learn or read in books, it is something that you feel. The strong sense of pride during the Fourth of July, the way you stand up a little straighter when you watch the flag being raised in the morning, and how when you hear the national anthem you just have to sing along not because you’ve heard it at every single sports event you’ve ever been to, but because you love how your country is summed up into song. Everyone can be patriotic, it does not matter how old you are or what color your skin is, you are capable of showing the world that you are proud to be an American citizen and that you love your country and everyone who lives in it.

I am proud to live in a country that will protect its people at all cost, a country that loves its troops and gives them whatever they need, a country  that helps out people from all over the world when they are in need, and a country that is free, I am very proud to be an American.

By: Whitley Dunn

In little small town Georgia, everyone gathers at the famous Lake Sinclair, to watch the show. With the moon shining bright on the lake and my wind blown hair, I lay back on the pontoon’s firm cushion, to watch the colorful balls of fire followed by a long stream of smoke and debris bust in mid air. “BOOM, BOOM, BOOM” they say as the bust over my head. Not only are they busting above me but, they bust beside me a little further down the lake. As I look even further they’re everywhere, going off like popcorn in a microwave, spontaneously beautiful. Throughout the whole night they don’t stop until sunrise, but America never stops celebrating. Everyday is a celebration to us, American people.

Living in America is truly a blessing. America is a big, beautiful, and free land that we sometimes take for granted. Many of us, Americans, don’t understand how grateful we should be about the country we live in.  We can wear what we want, when we want and we have the right to speak our minds. We can also conquer our dreams unlike other countries who do not have these privileges. In some of the other countries the people do not have a say in anything. They are just residents that the government controls. Many Americans should take a step back from their busy schedules and just think about all the freedoms they really do have.

The best thing we have in America it’s inevitable amount of changing. In the past decade we have witnessed many changes in America. We have seen the first African American president to be inaugurated into the White House. We have seen flip phones with no internet turn into Androids and I phones with anything and everything you could ever want in one device. We have also seen gay marriage be legalized in all 50 states of America. Not only has this generation seen so many changes but every generation before us have too. The fact is America is an ever- changing country with a lot to bring to the table.

I think America is looked at as the dreamland. The only reason why people came to America on the Mayflower was to get away from other countries and to have freedom. As a country I believe we are still holding that tradition of freedom. Many countries envy America because it is like a made up story or just a fantasy that doesn’t seem real. Many countries envy America so much that they like to start wars. Although America is great, we wouldn’t be where we are without our armed troops over seas fighting everyday for us. Without the troops supporting and protecting us, our country would be like any other, boring and bland. So whether you’re celebrating America’s birth by watching fireworks on the lake or doing whatever makes you happy, just be proud that you are an American and have the freedom to do what you want.

By: Ben Giles

Every morning as a GMC Prep School student, I recite the words DUTY, HONOR, COUNTRY, and salute the flag as it is raised. While I consider these acts of patriotism, nothing is better than the freedom of waking up and looking at a new day. Many people don’t really look at patriotism as a word in their vast vocabulary, but as the actions of others to secure our freedoms. In the morning I say a prayer at the moment of silence for all the men and women that protect our wonderful country, America, and their daily sacrifices to ensure my freedom. Even though I can’t join the army and fight there are things I can do that represent acts of patriotism.

Patriotism is shown in many different ways in our daily lives. This can be small acts of kindness or large acts of gratitude. Each and every day those in the armed forces serve the citizens of America. As a student, patriotism can be displayed by service to others. There are many within our local community that are in great need. Last summer I saw those needs first hand as a volunteer at the local food pantry. I gave to my local community by stocking the shelves of the pantry when food items arrived, I went with my grandparents to pick up food from local vendors, and bagged food items for those that needed the assistance of the food pantry. This simple act may not sound like I am making a big difference, but it made all the difference in the lives of the families served. Service to the local community is an act of patriotism.

Another way I feel as though I have served others is through my commitment in Jr. Beta Club. When I was in the 5th grade one of my service projects was helping students younger than me with their reading. I spent four days a week working with kindergarten and first graders on their reading. This contribution was an act of patriotism that benefited the students not only in their school life but their life outside of school. I was able to help someone become a better reader which offered them a chance to do better in school and perhaps their life. Service to others is an act of patriotism and a way in which I can contribute locally.

Drawing close is the anniversary of 9/11, and last school year I had the privilege of writing some of the names of those that died in the 9/11 attacks. Now many people identify this to be a sad moment in the lives of many, but the experience of writing the names of the deceased on the bricks of such a historical place was meaningful. This activity shows that patriotism is indeed alive and well at GMC through the acts of the students – many who were not even born yet. Remembrance of this significant, life-altering event, demonstrate the events have had a lasting impact and that our nation can come together when it counts – this is patriotism.

By: Audrey Harris
What it means to be a patriot is more than just pride and love for one’s country.  To truly understand the adoration people have for America, one must go back to when the United States of America was first founded.  Almost everyone knows the story: how America was founded on the beliefs of independence and freedom; how the idea to start anew without a monarchy, but with a democracy was instilled.  America was built up from many different types of people with varying cultural backgrounds, and the hope of creating a better country full of opportunities to thrive.  America was built to give people the right to control the government rather than allowing the government to control the people.  The citizen’s rights is what makes this country so unique and special, and it is also what instills so much pride and love of country into the people.  Though there are many people who love this country, a true patriot is someone who understands their nations background, achievements and mistakes, and still is able to acknowledge the potential the country has.  Someone who can encourage the process of improving to become a better country for its citizens. 

Two uncles of my own are prime examples of patriots.  They, along with my mother, her sister, and parents, came to America in 1978 from the Philippines seeking a better life.  It was difficult for them to leave all they had ever known, but were comforted by the fact that the country they would soon call home was built based on the ideals of freedom and opportunities.  Together, my uncles joined the military.  One went to the Army and the other the Air Force.  It was in the military and in America where they were able to experience true freedom for the first time, and have to opportunity to help others obtain the same benefits.  They both love their country for all it has given them: a better life filled with opportunities and pride.  They show true patriotism by being grateful for all America has given them, by believing in the abilities of their country, and by making an effort to improve it further for future generations. 

Being a patriot is much more than one just loving how they live.  It takes understanding how that country is helping people lead fulfilling lives.  It takes defending the country and believing in what it can do to become an even better for others.  It is easy for people to call themselves patriotic and only express it by wearing the nations colors on their backs and boasting about their freedoms to others.  They stay silent when they do not like what is changing, and cheer when there are major accomplishments.  A true patriot, though, stands by his country, trying to make positive changes.  A true patriot is able to grasp where his freedom came from, the price it cost to gain it, and contribute to the improvement for others.  Patriots stand by their country even when it is hard and displeasing, because that is when the country needs belief and care the most.

By: Allie Kauzlarich

“I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America… with liberty and justice for all.”  This quick and to the point pledge isn’t just words we say as quickly as possible just to move on with our lives.  The pledge means more.  The pledge shows our love to the United States of America.  The pledge is a way we show our patriotism.  As a daughter of two patriots, I learned very quickly how to show my compassion to our country.  From waving the American flag on our porch, to random history lessons about our founding fathers, my family shows little acts of patriotism daily.  That’s not the only thing that makes a patriot; have love and pride for our country, willingness to sacrifice, and fighting for our beliefs are other ways to show how you are a patriot.

Showing love for our country is easy and fun.  Wearing all red, white, and blue on spirit days or holidays, firing firecrackers, and even cooking foods with our country’s colors can be ways of showing our love.  One extremely important way to show our devotion to America is placing your hat over your heart during the National Anthem instead of having a hat placed on your head.  This also shows respect to our flag and the soldiers who fought and died for our freedom.  Pride in our nation can go a long way.  Neil Armstrong was the first to step on the moon and set our amazing flag there.  Mr. Armstrong wanted to be the first.  He wanted to show how amazing America is. 

As a daughter of two patriots, I leaned at a young age the importance of sacrifice.  Police officers, firefighters, soldiers, and families of those listed have sacrificed themselves for our country.  Those who go to war, keeping our streets safe, and even allowing the men and women to leave for many months are patriots.  Without these brave families our nation would not be a safe and comfortable place to live.

Fighting for our beliefs started when colonist voyaged to a foreign land to live the way they appreciated.  Thanks to our founding fathers and their bravery, we can live with no worries.  Even if fighting for your beliefs is changing the way your school works, you are still doing something to better our country and better the future leaders who one day will fight for the nation and maybe the world.

Next time you listen to Taps play or the National Anthem, cover your heart or salute those who died, fought, and love our country.  You don’t have to be a soldier to be a patriot.  Every day you can show your love to America.  You may not sacrifice for America, but supporting those who did makes you an outstanding patriot.  Daily you can fight for what you want.  Small ideas can go a long way.  Through our devotion, bravery, dedication, courage, and compassion, we can show our patriotism.  God Bless America!

By: Colum Lowery

What does it mean to be a patriot? John F. Kennedy once said, “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.”  To me, patriotism, in a broad spectrum, is when one shows pride for his or her country and is willing to be of service to his or her country.  Patriotism should be shown on a daily basis rather just a couple of celebrations a year.

One might ask, “How can I be of service to my country?” There are many ways a citizen can help our great country. You can volunteer at a veterans home, hospital or nursing home. You can also be of service by feeding the poor, by donating to food pantries, or volunteering your time at a soup kitchen. Some other ideas would be service projects, such as Eagle Projects, planning parades, or highway cleanups. Personally, I have participated in many of these activities, and it is an honor to help my country in this way. Our country is always in need of volunteer workers, whether someone is able to give 40 hours per week or one hour per month.  There are many American citizens that complain about our country, but perhaps they are selfish and never consider that they can do many things to improve America. Those that do serve our country have experienced the joy and satisfaction of patriotism.  Many hands make light work. Imagine how much greater our country would be if more of our citizens were involved in volunteering in their communities.  

Even when you aren’t providing service in your community and country, you can demonstrate patriotism by showing pride in our country. Some things I do on an everyday basis include flying the American flag and saluting it at school while it is being raised or lowered. Some other examples include attending national holiday parades, giving proper respect to veterans and active military personnel, and celebrating national holidays.  Some people believe that patriotism is reserved for occasions such as Memorial Day and the Fourth of July and believe it is all about waving flags and firecrackers.  However, you can find small or large acts of patriotism in the everyday lives of some American citizens who work to improve our country.

A true American patriot feels that it is necessary to perform his duties and obligations.  Some duties of an American citizen include voting and supporting our government. We should respect government officials, even when we do not agree with the decisions they have made. Some other examples include driving safely, abiding by the laws and paying taxes.  If more citizens would feel compelled to carry out these duties and obligations, our country would be an even better place to live.

I personally believe that patriotism can be shown in small acts as well as great acts. These acts can include helping our fellow American citizens, showing pride for our country, and fulfilling duties and obligations of a citizen. In this way, we improve our country and make it a better place for all of us.

By: Emma Cate Shomaker
Upon being asked what it means to be a patriot, many people might say that it means to love one’s country, but being a patriot is more than that. Loving something alone does not ensure that one will act honorably or nobly or heroically, nor does love alone even mean anything unless one acts upon it. Actions do speak louder than words, and acting upon something is far more important than one’s feelings for that thing. A patriot is more than someone who loves their country, but someone who openly supports it, someone who lives by and adheres to the values of their country, and someone who enforces those values in their community.

 

A patriot is someone who is willing to sacrifice for their country, someone who has courage and bravery and loyalty and someone who puts something bigger than themselves--the belief of what is right and just in the name of their country--before themselves. People indispensable to American history as we know it, our Founding Fathers, and everyone involved in America’s founding are the reason America was able to become the nation it is today. It took people fighting for freedom for there to be freedom; it took sacrifice for there to be something worth sacrificing for, and it took leaders who exemplified to others what someone who supported their country did and that limitations were only temporary with enough effort and persistence. Not just in America’s founding as a country, but in every trying time our nation’s history, we have come together as one. During World War II, we were a united front of support and defense for our country, and that allowed us to have vigor to win and overcome, this mindset that we could do it and we would do it.

However, courage and bravery and loyalty are not things only shown on the front lines; they can be things we do everyday, such as holding ourselves to be honest, truthful, and lawabiding. Love is not the only thing we can give our country; our patriotism is. People who believe in something and stand their ground, people who fights for what they believe in, and people who put their country before themselves are the people who preserve great nations. It is the attitude of patriotism that is so famously quoted by J.F. Kennedy, “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country,” and these are the people you will find in the workforce, individuals who support their country day-in and day-out, contributing to the economy; these are the people you will find on the battlefield, sacrificing their lives and the years in them for their fellow citizens and to the principles their country fights for; these are the people you will find in tension-strung offices, making the tough decisions for the fate of America.

By: Becky Vaughn

It is customary at many high schools across America to recite the pledge of allegiance every day. The pledge is a promise from America’s citizens to always live by and for the country. It reinforces the American pride and patriotism within citizens. However, this sense of patriotism seems to be lost in today’s society. Rather than focusing on how great this country is, people are now turning most of their attention to technology. Observing our society’s values change, I see how patriotism seems to be a trait that is a rarity now. Patriotism shouldn’t just be saying the pledge of allegiance or having three day weekends or memorizing the Constitution. Rather, it should be a reflection on how citizens respect and love our country and it should be a trait that every American citizen has.

My mother and her family are immigrants. They moved from Colombia in hopes of possible having a better life here in the United States. Although my mother misses the life she left in Colombia, the life she has now seems to compensate for what she left behind. Despite leaving behind her ties, she hasn’t abandoned the culture that she knows from Colombia. This opportunity my mother had 45 years ago has allowed for her to have the life she has now; without taking the risks and leaving her homeland, she wouldn’t have the family she does now, the opportunities she has received, nor the experiences that she has gone through. For this, we are grateful for what this country has to offer. My family is proud to be called patriotic, for if it were not because of the beautiful opportunities that America offered my mother, we would not be living the same life that we are living today. To me, patriotism is more than just having no school on select few Mondays; it is the feeling of appreciation and deep love for the country that literally gave me the life that I have now. If it were not for the acceptance that allowed my mother to live a happy life here, I would not be where I am today. Because of the incredible opportunities that America gives to those in need, I will forever and always be patriotic.

At school, I see my peers running around  with American flag bandanas, screaming “‘Merica” and thinking that they are patriotic by doing this. However, to me this seems to be more as a joke and is not true patriotism. Just wearing bandanas and yelling a slang term for our country does not seem patriotic. Rather, being involved in the community and enforcing the need of pride for our country with others is the most patriotic way to go. Our founding fathers did not risk the future of our country and their lives for us to take patriotism as a joke. Too many people have fought for our freedom, for our country, and for our beliefs; we should not be taking this lightly. We cannot let these sacrifices be for nothing. We must make the war and fighting worth defending this country. We should pledge to the flag with honor, not with dread. We should wear our colors with pride, not as a joke. We should see our duty as Americans to preserve our country spread patriotism to the every single citizen in this country.

By: Justin Wallace     
Many people around the world argue about what a patriot is. Dictionary.com defines a patriot as “a person who loves, supports, and defends his or her country and its interests with devotion.” Many people think that a patriot is someone who will agree with whatever the government says or someone who will go to war anywhere at any given time. To me, a patriot is someone who shows lots of support and loyalty to their country. So basically, a patriot is someone who really loves their country!

A patriot knows the Pledge of Allegiance by heart and knows the meaning behind it. A patriot not only waves a flag in their hand or hangs one in their yard, but they understand the history of the flag.  A patriot is someone who can sing the Star-Spangled Banner at any time and cares about what it symbolizes to the country, not how good they sing it. A patriot takes a holiday such as Independence Day (4th of July) as not just a day to relax or get time off, but as a day to pay tribute to the struggles of our nation and those that went through it. A patriot is not someone who wears red, white, and blue for fun, but they are proud to wear and understand the colors and symbols of their nation. A patriot is someone who knows what is best for the growth and success of their country and they will do whatever it takes to make it happen. Many people say they are patriots, but few people are real patriots.

It shocked me to find out that today you can just send an application to be a patriot to the White House. It should not be this easy. Becoming a patriot should not be a process, yet it should be a lifelong commitment that comes from the heart. A person should be called a patriot when there is no doubt that that person loves his country and puts it on a pedestal.

The men and women who serve in the Unites States military, show great patriotism for our country. They are willing to sacrifice their lives, their time and sometimes their freedom to make their country a better place. In some cases, real patriots, such as our military personnel, put their country before their family, friends, and even themselves. As a patriot we should always pay tribute and give thanks to those who have served in the military, past and present. I have several family members that are veterans and others who are currently serving in the United States military. My great-grandfather, my grandfather and my great-uncle are all veterans. My uncle is in the Air Force Reserve, and my cousin just left for training last month. These people and many others are heroes to me and have proven to be true patriots.

Overall, a patriot is difficult to define in words but it is easy to tell if somebody is a patriot by their actions. A patriot can easily be spotted showing true love and appreciation for their country, understanding the nation’s history, and taking pride in where they live!