I grew up in the 1980s. In school, class started at the second bell. Homeroom. A gaggle of kids chatting amongst themselves until the teacher put an end to it. We sat in our seats and squirmed restlessly through attendance. Once all children were present and accounted for, we stood for the Pledge of Allegiance. During that time, all of the squirmings stopped. Hands were on hearts, eyes on the flag. No chatting, no horseplay, no movement except that of our lips. 30 kids in perfect unison, putting a solemn pledge before all else in our lives.
Outside of our classroom, there was a cold war raging. The Russians were the Anti-Americans. Communism and socialism were a form of government to be feared. A disease. It was pervasive, we were told. Its seeds would find their way to our shores, and it was our duty as Americans to see that it never took root.
The American flag was revered back then. It was never to touch the ground. It was never to be spit on, walked on, or set ablaze. Yes, we all saw it happen on video from the 1960s. We knew that sort of behavior was tolerated in the name of free speech. We knew that it wasn’t out of the realm of possibility for these things to happen, but we were convinced we wouldn’t let it happen around us. We were different.
We bought American-made products with pride. We looked down on imports. We could never bear the idea that any of our favorite companies would ship off the manufacturing jobs to another nation. Although our older brothers or fathers fought in an unpopular war, they were given their due respect several times a year. Our Grandparents were the “Greatest Generation” and they were proud Americans. Parades for Memorial Day, Fourth of July, and even Easter featured our hometown heroes marching down the main street of town for all to see.
Somehow, we’ve lost all of this.
Today’s children no longer recite the Pledge of Allegiance. They witness violent protests, disrespect of our flag, and insulting words toward our country on a weekly basis on prime-time television. Very little reverence is given to our military members anymore. Foreign products, made with foreign materials and created with foreign labor occupy almost every shelf at the local Walmart. We don’t bat an eye at that “Made in China” sticker anymore. We don’t even take the time to look for American-made products.
Patriotism is dying.
Sure, we saw a brief revival in 2001. American flags sold out in the weeks following one of the most brazen terrorist attacks in modern history. People were proudly American almost to the point of belligerence. Then, it just faded away again. All of the “Never forget” bumper stickers faded and were scraped off. The flags faded and were discarded. The patriotic T-shirts faded and were relegated to cleaning rags. We just forgot to never forget, I guess.
In the 1980s, Ronald Reagan was unabashedly, unforgivingly, and unapologetically American. He created a decade of hope for the American people. President Bush carried that tradition forward. Years later, President Trump was able to revive a bit of that sentiment during his term.
What have we got now? Biden’s bumbling, incoherent, babbling couldn’t stir the American spirit of Paul Revere himself. We have a government whose ranks include socialists, malcontents, and a Democratic party that seems hell-bent on the destruction of the country from within. Worse than that, they appear to be making progress toward that end.
Patriotism, the love for your country, cannot co-exist with this nonsense. Americans see the current government as an adversary. Just a bunch of bureaucratic time wasters and anti-American activists that are hell-bent on destroying the foundation our country was founded on. One of the few times Biden could manage to put a coherent sentence together, he claimed that no amendment was absolute. A statement like that, made in another period of time, might be enough to start a war. In today’s world, Americans just go on with their lives.
We don’t even bother to be bothered anymore. We accept the infringement of our rights. We tolerate the rising cost of living. We ignore the blatant corruption. We accept the idea that the government cannot be controlled. We have no pride in America because we don’t feel like we built it anymore. We can’t even validate that the elections are fair.
Patriotism is for people who are proud of their country. Maybe if this administration managed to do something to stir that pride, we could muster some enthusiasm. Until that happens, we’re left waiting for the next election cycle to come around.