What makes a Patriot?

Patriotism is not defined by the number of flags you fly, how clamorously you support your country, how well you sing the anthem at a sporting event, whether you served in the military or how many times a day you echo a pledge.

Nor does hanging your flag out until it rots, by the number of stickers on your car or telling each other you’re wonderful because you drink the same kind of beer with red, white and blue colors on the can.

Being a two-war combat veteran does not qualify me to label myself a patriot; self-proclamations are worth less than the breath used to utter them.

What does make a patriot?

How about those who respect the Constitution, understand and support it, and ensure all people within its borders bathe in its benefits?

Let’s start with our city council. These are citizens who see problems, run for unpaid positions, swear to defend the Constitution, then proceed to resolve those- and other issues.

Now, because of fervid nationalism, they must pledge loyalty biweekly. Have these council members fallen from grace since the previous meeting, unable to be trusted unless they allow certain words to pass their lips?

With six enlistments under my belt, and with each one I swore an oath to protect my country, never was it a necessity to reiterate a pledge of allegiance.

Why not? At times I handled Top Secret cryptographic material and nuclear weapon release codes, yet humble city council members, private business members, and school children MUST proclaim their loyalty — sometimes daily?

Over seven decades ago, the Supreme Court, in deciding that public school students are not required to recite the pledge, Justice Jackson asserted, “… such ideological dogma is antithetical to the principles of the country …”

So, why do we insist to continually indoctrinate our children to recite words which are not true? “Liberty and Justice for All”? It does not exist. “Under God”? Which god — only one of the Christian interpretations?

The result of this indoctrination is evident on a daily basis: peer pressure to be part of the crowd, not be different, as “different” is to be an outsider — not welcome; we teach our children to be accepting of everyone, except those who don’t look like us, dress like us, talk like us, follow the same flag, or gods, like us.

Once reaching adulthood, our children are less independent of the state, subconsciously addicted to servitude, holding a “Love it or Leave it” mentality, readily accepting this encroachment upon their liberties.

Standing in a hospital waiting room gives you a better chance at becoming a doctor than reciting a pledge will make you a better person, a patriot, a hero; it’s not mouthing trite words, folks, it’s action.

Once the state, or its citizens, demand pledges — you are no longer free. Oddly, North Korea stands as the other country demanding citizens pledge allegiance.

If, as an American citizen, you demand pledges, you don’t understand our Constitution, for surely — and sadly — you have no concept of freedom.

David Youngberg