Patriotism, according to the American Heritage Dictionary means "Love
and devotion to one's country."
Jingoism is defined as "Extreme nationalism . . . chauvinistic
patriotism." We need to know the difference.
Last week we watched an example of what patriotism really means. In
Salt Lake City it was time for the athletes to enter the stadium. But
first, eight Olympians and an honor guard of New York police and
firefighters walked in slowly carrying the tattered flag that had been
found in the wreckage of the World Trade Building. I had been so
afraid of what would happen at that moment, but it was perfect. There
was silence in the stadium. Fifty thousand people from all over the
world watched in silence. Then the Mormon Tabernacle Choir started
singing our national anthem. Otherwise the only sound was from the
helicopters hovering overhead.
This was not flag waving or jingoism. This was paying honor to those
who had died, and letting the rest of us have a moment of real emotion
The Olympic Games in Salt Lake City at this time in history provide a
wonderful opportunity for us to show what real patriotism is. Playing
host to the world could not have come at a better time. Athletes from
77 nations are together in peace for these few weeks. We want as many
American gold medals as we can win, but we want the best athletes to
win, wherever they live.
Human nature hasn't changed all that much through the years. Once we
had clans fighting each other. Now we have nations fighting each
other. Once we had spears and now we have supersonic airplanes and
weapons of mass destruction. Means of killing each other have evolved
with technology, but we have not figured out the human angle of how
handle disputes without killing. After all these years we have not
learned how to work out problems peacefully.
Adlai Stevenson in 1952 spoke of patriotism. "What do we mean by
patriotism in the context of our times? I venture to suggest that what
we mean is a sense of national responsibility . . . a patriotism which
is not short, frenzied outbursts of emotion, but the tranquil and steady
dedication of a lifetime."
The horrible events of September 11 have scared us all and we're not sure
how to react. In our confusion we have tended to go around chanting
"U. S. A" and waving American flags. Flags have sprouted like
dandelions, in a burst of patriotic fervor. But the flag is the
serious emblem of our country and not a security blanket. If we are
going to wave it, let's do it right.
In my youth my mother got me into the Children of the American
Revolution and I spent many an hour memorizing the history and the
etiquette of the American flag. I was truly shocked to see the way some
flags have been displayed this fall, so I checked my memory by looking
up a number of flag etiquette sites on the web.
The flag should be displayed outside only from sunrise to sunset. The
union should always be on the observer's left. It should not be draped
over the hood, top, sides, or back of a vehicle. When it is displayed on
a car, the staff shall be fixed firmly to the chassis or clamped to the
right front fender.
The flag should never touch anything beneath it, such as the ground,
the floor. It should never be used as wearing apparel, bedding, or
The flag should never be used for advertising purposes in any manner
whatsoever. And when it is in such condition that it is no longer a
fitting emblem for display, should be
destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by burning. We do not toss
it in the dumpster.
Patriotism means "Love and devotion to one's country." And it means
more. It means respect. As Rachel Sauer wrote from Salt Lake City,
"While the Olympics are a celebration of athleticism and competition,
they really are a celebration of what human beings can do when they get
together. . . and be reminded that the world isn't too big after all."