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Patriotism can easily be summed up as having a love for your country of origin, celebrating the holidays of your nation, and honoring those who fight for your land, but the word has a deeper, more complex meaning for every individual.
Former U.S Senator John McCain goes into detail of what else it means to be a patriot, and what everyday actions, no matter how small, make you one. In McCain’s essay, “A Cause Greater Than Self,” he gives examples of everyday activities that we take for granted and states how they are a part of patriotism within the American People.
In his essay, McCain states, “Patriotism and the citizenship it requires should motivate the conduct of public officials, but it also thrives in the communal spaces where government is absent…” As McCain defines it, patriotism is a force that exists wherever we go, and it thrives in public places, yet we don’t realize it. This impacts me as an American because I always thought that patriotism existed only if you were someone from the military or were a government official, such as the president.
McCain’s words were able to broaden my view of what patriotism means. He explained even more, later in his essay, when he states, “In families, churches, synagogues, museums, symphonies, the Little League, the Boy Scouts, The Girl Scouts, the Salvation army or the VFW. They are the habits and institutions that preserve democracy.” This statement was what changed my mind and made me realize that patriotism is more complicated than what I initially thought and that it is instead something that we all show with our everyday actions, no matter how small. This especially resonated with me because I used to go to museums at least once a month as a child and learning that that is an act of patriotism makes me feel proud of what I did and more like an American. The little actions we perform every day like going to church, school, or just carrying out a simple act of kindness is what makes us truly American, not just fighting for our nation on the military front. Everyone has a chance to show their patriotism.
This new definition of patriotism spreads out to not only those born in America but everyone who lives in the country. Whether immigrants or non-immigrants, we all show patriotism for the nation we live in, in our own ways and for different reasons.
Despite what others try to say about outsiders being un-American, we all exude the same patriotism by showing our thanks for being part of the nation we live in, thus proving that we’re all Americans at heart. Moreover, we show our love for the country in our own unique ways, no matter how minuscule the action may seem. Patriotism isn’t just something we have to show obviously, but instead, it’s something we demonstrate however we want and whenever we want.

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