As families and friends across America gather this weekend for Independence Day, patriotism for our country will be expressed with fireworks, parades, and songs. But do we celebrate for the sake of patriotism or simply to blow things up and eat food?
I grew up in a decently patriotic family. When the War on Terror began, my dad hung an American flag outside everyday, promising he wouldn’t stop until our troops were back home. Old John Wayne war films were a constant favorite at my house and every patriotic holiday we made the trek up our street to the main road and watched a colorful parade go by. I use to revel in the patriotism of those days. Every firework that went off wasn’t just a display of color and smoke, it celebrated our freedom.
But as I got older (and more cynical), I found myself and my generation taking patriotism less seriously. Perhaps it’s our tendency to take things for granted or our more global view of the world or even doing it for the sake of a joke, whatever it is, we’ve made patriotism ironic.
We adopt a hillbilly accent and call our nation “‘Murica”; we wear patriotic gear not for sentiment but for a laugh; we drops lots of money on explosives not for any sense of freedom but because it looks cool. Patriotism, for much of my generation, is a shallow idea. We don’t reflect on our freedom or its cost, we crack jokes about our country. Our flag doesn’t mean as much to us as our entertainment does. Believe me, I’m guilty of these things as well.
While there’s nothing wrong with joking around, and there are certainly some things worth making fun of from the John Wayne generation, there is a danger in losing a deep sense of love for our country. That danger shows itself in less willingness to protect it. When we don’t really care about patriotism, then we won’t really care when our nation needs us.
From a Christian perspective, I know on one hand this world isn’t my ultimate home and my true loyalty lies with God. But, this nation is my current home and I should seek its well-being. Considering what freedoms I do have (especially freedom of religion), I should be very grateful for where God has put me and celebrate this country and those who make this country as free as it is.
So as you grill out or light fuses this 4th of July, don’t lose yourself in an ironic joke of patriotism but properly weigh the cost of your freedom and celebrate the independence you have. It’s what our founding fathers would have wanted.