Fair-weather patriots, beware

· Sep 17, 2001 Tweet

In the past six days since the terrorist attacks, America has witnessed an outpouring of patriotism and solidarity among its citizens. Individuals, families and communities have united to show their support for each other and their country.

We have come together in our shared grief and mourned not as isolated citizens but as one unified country.

Whether one runs up and down the median of the road flashing a “Honk if you love the USA!” sign or one flies the good ol’ red, white and blue from the car antenna, citizens are more than eager to publicly demonstrate their love of the country. Through the many candlelight vigils and prayer services across the nation, every citizen has been provided an opportunity to share in our country’s mourning process.

Even college students — often criticized for their apathetic attitude toward civic involvement — appear to be uncharacteristically thinking of someone other than themselves, as they light candles on their front porches and unfurl American flags from their balconies.

While I find our country’s abundance of pride to be truly inspirational at times, I also find myself beginning to question the genuineness and permanence of these sentiments. After all, what constitutes national pride and how should it be demonstrated? For example, I find it difficult to believe that drunken college men shouting “U.S.A., U.S.A.” at 1:00 a.m. Saturday legitimately helps unify our country in this time of mourning.

After being bombarded by the horrifying images of the demolished World Trade Center and the collapsing Pentagon on television, it does not seem surprising that citizens feel an obligation to help by giving blood or contribute by comforting those who have lost someone dear. But when the dust spreading over Manhattan fades away, I wonder how many of us will still be flying American flags and publicly gathering to pray for the future of our nation.

At this point in time, it seems premature to praise our country for its unity and solidarity. This attack forced us to reevaluate our citizenship in the democratic superpower of the world. In order to grieve and make sense of this tragedy, we have found it necessary to prove our national identity to the world and ourselves.

For our country’s future security, we must unite behind our president and our governmental leaders while they decide what course of action to take. If we do not unite behind them, their actions lack legitimacy. That is why it is important, if bombs fall and American servicemen and women die, that we continue to wave flags and continue to chant “U.S.A.”

While I sincerely hope what we all feel and show are not manufactured sentiments of a superficial national unity but true and solid patriotism that withstands the tests of time, I think the truth eludes us for now.

I can only hope that my cynicism comes unfounded, as my generation experiences, for the first time, a test of our faith in the United States. Perhaps the Memorial Days, Fourth of Julys and Labor Days of the years to come will be celebrated in honor of our country and the citizens who have given their lives for it instead of an excuse to barbecue in the park and watch fireworks.

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This article was published Sep 17, 2001 at 12:00 am and last updated Sep 17, 2001 at 12:00 am

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