Per definition, patriotism is the pride of and devotion to one’s homeland; however, explaining the concept comprehensively is rather complicated. Patriotism and one’s idea of it depends heavily on the country it is displayed in, as well as on the country’s historic and geopolitical background; some patriots may put more emphasis on politics, while others focus on the geographic qualities of their mother country. In other countries, patriotism does not play an important role, or is even frowned upon.
In the United States, patriotism is seen as an important part of American culture. More than half of the population owns an American flag, and almost as many own apparel with the patriotic symbols on it. Phenomena such as flag ownership seem to occur across all generational groups.
American patriotism is rooted in conservative values which include honor, loyalty and bravery among others, thus Americans serving in the military and fighting in a war are regarded highly. Joining the army is a reasonable choice for Americans to display their patriotism, but also a way to ensure financial stability. Veterans are respected, though in reality, they often struggle to find their place in society after returning from war. Most veterans live in the northern part of the United States, where unemployment rates are higher, and conservative voters are predominant.
Independence Day, or the Fourth of July, is probably the most patriotic holiday for Americans. Although it is not officially connected to the military, it often includes the displaying of the American flag and respective merchandise, parades and political speeches (but also fireworks and lots of food). Most Americans celebrate Independence Day with a cookout or a barbecue.
Patriotic-themed movies are also a huge part of America’s movie industry and are guaranteed to become blockbusters and consequently rake in millions at the box office. One popular recent example is American Sniper, which was the most successful release in early-2015 and even earned a few Academy Award nominations. Incidentally, during a 2012 survey, almost 20 percent of respondents stated they think that the movie Independence Day shows events that are likely to happen in the next 25 years.
When talking about patriotism, gun control is a topic which often comes up, especially since it has become the subject of controversial discussion. Since the right to bear arms is stated in the Constitution, many Americans feel it is their given right to own guns, while others consider controlling guns and gun ownership to be more important. One popular representative of the right to bear arms is the National Rifle Association (NRA), which supports gun ownership for everyone in the United States without restrictions, and stresses the importance of self-defense. After several school shootings and the killing without probable cause of civilians by the police, the topics gun control and gun possession are now more fervently discussed than ever.
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