Kent’s view on patriotism

D.J. Petty


Credit: DKS Editors


Credit: DKS Editors


Credit: DKS Editors


Credit: DKS Editors

On the second floor of Starbucks, Zach Loudin balanced a laptop on his knees while a copy of Kurt Vonnegut’s “Slaughterhouse-Five” sat on a table at his side.

“Patriotism,” he quietly muttered to himself, pondering how to interpret its meaning. He scratched the mane of wild red curls on his head. He was temporarily stymied by a question many people seem to have a concept about but have difficulty expressing its meaning – What does patriotism mean to you?

After a few minutes, he found his answer.

“(Patriotism means) having faith in your country to do what it thinks is right,” said Loudin, an employee at Starbucks, pausing before adding, “But also being not afraid at all to, like, stand up and say something when things aren’t going as you think or a majority of people were thinking.”

In the midst of a presidential election year that is partially underscored by the hot-button topic of U.S. military presence in Iraq, defining patriotism may have lost the past simplicity of flag-waving parades. It appears difficult to talk about patriotism uninfluenced by current political issues.

Freshman exploratory major Josh Pleasant spent a couple of minutes contemplating how to explain what he believes patriotism is.

“I think patriotism is, to me, what you feel about your country and how proud you feel about your country. I’m proud to be an American,” he said.

Pleasant, however, doesn’t address patriotism without expressing his opinions about U.S. troops stationed in Iraq.

“I don’t agree with everything that goes on overseas,” he added.

Some students, such as David Zach, take a more neutral position about the motivational mechanics of politics and war.

“I think that patriotism is having faith in the way that your country works, regardless of what the outcome of what the decisions might be,” he said.

Zach, sophomore mathematics major, also stumbled over his response for several moments before coming to his conclusion. Shortly after the question was posed to him, he shook his head in philosophical disbelief.

“This is harder than I thought,” Zach said.

As Zach finished his answer, Autumn Mamrak stood nearby. She watched how much thought he put into a seemingly simple question and began to anticipate her own answer. Mamrak, a mathematics graduate student, was almost afraid to answer. However, after a long and cautious pause, she spoke with definitive conviction.

“I don’t necessarily think that patriotism is standing up for your country,” she said, “like all the decisions that they make. But it’s faith that the group, as a whole, can come up with a better solution.”

Although July 4 is shadowed by the inevitable change of administration, old-fashioned sentiments of patriotism still ring true.

“When you watch the fireworks, you’re not just watching the fireworks because they look nice,” Pleasant said. “You’re watching them because you’re celebrating being an independent nation and the freedom that you have here is not like every other country. It’s different here. I haven’t been to other countries, but I know that, from learning in school, that it’s different here. You can be whatever you want to be if you put your mind to it.”

Contact general assignment reporter D.J. Petty at [email protected].