Opinions: Politically Correct?: My blood thirst for patriotism


The ribbons we wore to honor the victims of 9/11 when I was in first grade.

In seventh grade I decided not to say the Pledge of Allegiance in Mr. Mark McHale’s first hour band class at Wildwood Middle School. I don’t know what exactly possessed me that morning, it might have been rebellious but I might have just been too tired.

I did stand up with all the other boys in my classroom (I was the only girl), but I didn’t put my hand over my heart and the monotonous words of the pledge didn’t fall out of my mouth. I was silent.

Mr. McHale didn’t like my protest and gave me a lunch detention. I fought and fought the punishment, telling my teacher that I deserved my First Amendment right. I still got the detention; it was the longest lunch period of my life.

Since then I haven’t said the pledge once.

I don’t dislike or disrespect our country or the fact that we have the Pledge of Allegiance. It’s just a protest within myself–a simple reminder that I have rights.

The truth is I’ve never really felt an overwhelming sense of patriotism. The American flag has never blown in the wind for me, and “I’m proud to be an American” has always been one of my least favorite songs.

The only time I felt united as “one nation” was during the period after 9/11. I pinned a little 2″ x 2″ red, white and blue ribbon on my child’s size sweaters, but I didn’t really understand what it meant to be an American.

But in the face of the recent Boston Marathon bombings I posed the question to myself, “What does patriotism actually mean?”

All day Friday there was the blood thirst for the manhunt for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. Even I got wrapped up in it. I refreshed my CNN app every 20 minutes until they caught him later that afternoon. I read that the “U-S-A” chant started in the streets of Watertown shortly after.

Why is it that we need a common enemy to come together? I get the chants and the American flag shirts (made in China) but what I don’t understand is why it takes a tragedy for a country to feel united.

On 9/11 our hearts swelled with overwhelming basic, maternal love for our country. I’m sure that this is the same feeling that every one in Boston is experiencing.

I don’t necessarily feel that fervor when I say the Pledge of Allegiance, and if it takes tragic events to feel patriotism then I don’t want it.

I wish that people could come together as strongly for other reasons like conservation of the earth’s resources or the education of inner city youth, causes that truly represent liberty and justice for all.

I wish patriotism would last beyond the tragedy. Maybe then I’d feel like putting my hand over my heart.