"Patriotism is love of and/or devotion to one's country. The word comes from the Greek patris, meaning fatherland. However, patriotism has had different meanings over time, and its meaning is highly dependent upon context, geography, and philosophy." -Wikipedia.org
The United States of America is an interesting place. It is a country grown out of principles of independence and freedom to do what we please with that independence. Without using over-played buzzwords like "founding fathers" or "forefathers", I'll simply say that those who decided to build a nation that would be the example for people around the world for generations, they created a masterpiece. They created a country where you could have a democratically elected representation of common people to govern them. They built a place with a simple set of rights, including the right to believe what you want, say what you want, and not be told what to say or believe by the State.
Patriotism, at that time, wasn't simply a love for one's country, but it was a defiance against those who would impose any sort of tyranny over the people. This idea of patriotism has fallen by the wayside in recent years. People refuse to challenge over the idea of tyranny because they are sold on what the shepherds have led the sheep to believe, that everything's either okay, or that the sky is falling and everything's not okay. The latter pushes us to grant those in power more tools to pacify the masses and con them into believing that their brand of what some would call tyranny isn't really tyranny at all, it's a good government taking care of you.
If we are so taken care of, why do we have brothers and sisters, parents, kids, fighting in wars that aren't really protecting our freedoms as much as pushing our agenda or even, maybe by some stretch, protecting the freedoms of others, although even there we fail, as we've killed millions in the process of "protecting" them? If we are so taken care of, why do we have the biggest deficit in our Federal budget in our nations history? If we are so taken care of, why are we paying into a Social Security system that twice as many people under 35 believe is less likely to exist when they retire as than in the existence of UFOs and extra-terrestrials? If we are so taken care of, why is the matter of public health care reform made into thousands of pages of bills that the people in congress haven't really read at all and been told by our chief executive to pass it as soon as possible?
Is the public of the United States really this gullible? Or is the public just uninformed? Do people realize that a law defining a marriage between a man and a woman violates the first amendment in the Bill of Rights by imposing a State-sponsored religious view? Does anyone even know what the first amendment is? Verbatim?
The sad truth seems to indicate that the public's understanding of the American Constitution and Bill of Rights boils down to the adolescent argument that this is "a free country, so I can do what I want." It may be that simple, but the part that teenagers don't get (and that the public doesn't get on a much grander scale) is that this IS a free country, so you should be able to do what you want, provided you've worked hard for it and defended it. The hard work part is where people seem to fall short. Hard work is, well, exactly that: hard. It's not simply working hard at a job or a career to provide for yourself and your loved ones. It's also paying attention to what's going on in the annals of our government, reading bills, knowing who your representation is at all levels of government, interacting with those people, and doing what the Constitution was designed for: THE PUBLIC GOVERNING ITSELF.
THIS is patriotism. It's not blind allegiance to a political party or sporting a yellow ribbon magnet on your car. It's taking responsibility for your actions, stepping up, knowing what's going on, and doing something with the knowledge and abilities that every single American citizen has. We are at a critical time in our growth as a nation. We have fallen from superpower status to simply a powerful nation run by powerful oligarchs, and we need to take the power back for ourselves, the way it was designed to be.
Be a Patriot. Take your country back. Pay attention and have political cocktail parties in your house. Don't be afraid to say your piece and ask and LISTEN to someone else's. Most importantly, don't quit. Don't give up. Live free or die.