Happy Fourth of July

Stephen DeAngelis

July 4, 2008

In the United States, the 4th of July is a time of picnics, parades, and fireworks. It commemorates America’s declaration of liberty and the right of individuals to pursue happiness. The Fourth of July is a day of patriotism. Unfortunately, too many confuse patriotism with nationalism. British-born U.S. journalist Sydney J. Harris (1917–1986) said it best:

“Patriotism is proud of a country’s virtues and eager to correct its deficiencies; it also acknowledges the legitimate patriotism of other countries, with their own specific virtues. The pride of nationalism, however, trumpets its country’s virtues and denies its deficiencies, while it is contemptuous toward the virtues of other countries. It wants to be, and proclaims itself to be, ‘the greatest,’ but greatness is not required of a country; only goodness is.”

I have traveled a good deal around the globe and have visited many countries. The landscapes and languages vary. The customs and cultures are different. But the people living in those countries have every right to be patriotic about their fatherland and protective of their families. I’m proud to consider myself an American patriot. The Fourth of July is generally a time when Americans reflect positively on the land that they love, but I hope they also take a minute to reflect on how they can make America better. I would hope citizens everywhere would do the same as they celebrate their national holidays. If all of us did that, there would be a real reason to celebrate and enjoy the fireworks.