There’s a word thrown around a lot. It inspires passionate debate and is worn
like a badge of honor. And with good reason.
Because it means love and devotion for one’s country.
Love. For a word designed to unite, it can also
be pretty divisive. You see, there’s more to patriotism than
flag sequined onesies, and rodeos, and quadruple cheeseburgers.
Patriotism is love for a country, not just pride in it. But what really makes up this country of ours?
What is it we love? It’s more than a huge rock full of animals like cougars and eagles,
right? It’s the people.
Do me a favor and close your eyes for a second. I want to try something out.
Picture the average U.S. citizen. Think about it.
How old are they? What’s their hair like? How much can they bench?
Got one? Ok. So, the chances are the person you’re picturing
right now looks a little different to the real average American. There are 319 million U.S. citizens.
51% are female. So, first off, the average American is a woman.
Cool huh. Is that what you pictured? 54 million are Latino.
40 million are senior citizens. 27 million are disabled.
18 million are Asian (that’s more people in the U.S. than play football and baseball
combined) 9 million are lesbian, gay, bi, or transgender.
More than the entire amount of people that live in the state of Virginia.
Around 10 million are redheaded. 5.1 million play Ultimate Frisbee.
And 3 and a half million are Muslim. Triple the number of people currently serving
in the United States military. Almost half the country belongs to minority
groups. People who are lesbian. African American.
And bi. And transgender. And Native American. And proud of it!
We know that labels don’t devalue us, they help define us:
keeping us dialed in to our cultures, and our beliefs, and who we are. As Americans.
After all, what’s more American than the freedom to celebrate the things that make
us us? I mean, it’s stitched into the stars and
stripes of this country, from the Constitution, to Gettysburg, to our motto, “E Pluribus
Unum”, from many, one. It’s even in our country’s name – the UNITED States. This year patriotism shouldn’t just be about
pride of country. It should be about love.
Love beyond age, disability, sexuality, race, religion, and any other labels.
Because the second any of us judge people based on those labels, we’re not really
being patriotic, are we? So let’s try this one more time.
Close your eyes, picture that average Joe, or Joan, or Juan, or Jean-Luc.
The real people who make America America. And this year, whenever you feel the urge to don star spangled shorts, or set off fireworks the size of my biceps, to show love for our co untry, remember that to love America is to love all Americans. Because love has no labels.