Should we demand Patriotism? YES

Jenny Nguyen, Copy Editor

With Colin Kaepernick’s noteworthy protest of the national anthem during a preseason football game and refusal to vote in the 2016 election, the nation has been consequently embroiled in outrage and heavy debate. Amidst these disputes, the nation’s very own emblems are gradually falling out of favor with the people. Rather than scorning our national values, people should instead strive to honor the privileges and freedoms with which this country grants them, whether it be through singing the national anthem or standing for the pledge of allegiance.

The United States is a vastly diverse community—a melting pot of people from all walks of life. Because this country serves to promote individuality and independent thought, the American people are almost always split. In hindsight, the national anthem and pledge of allegiance both serve to unify this nation. Neha Nasar, a junior, expressed similar sentiments, “Especially now in a country that is a bit divided, the pledge and national anthem are what bind us together, reminding us of our pride as Americans and how we should be thankful to be living in such a free country. Patriotism unites us as one.”

Now, just because someone sings the anthem doesn’t mean they have to tattoo the American flag to their chest. People too often assume that the pledge and the national anthem are wicked devices used to indoctrinate the American public. However, these assumptions couldn’t be further from the truth. Compulsory patriotism doesn’t attempt to propagate this image of the United States as a perfect nation; it serves, more extensively, to recognize and honor the privileges and freedoms that come with living here.The issue lies with misinterpretation.

When it comes to national emblems, people tend to view them concretely—the flag is just a measly cloth and the Star-Spangled Banner is just a song, which consequently makes pledging our allegiance to these things seem like blind worship. Again, I’ll reiterate that this is simply not the case. It’s ignorant to interpret the flag and anthem as mere objects; they ultimately represent the fundamental pillars upon which this nation was founded. They symbolize “liberty and justice for all,” and they also represent the continuous struggle of this nation to attain true equality for its citizens. In deciding to honor the national anthem and flag, people are not necessarily validating the issues of this country. In effect, they are recognizing the nation’s social progress. “These national emblems instill pride in our country while also critically questioning the actions of its leaders,” Parkview administrator John Mangano commented.

Just as how acknowledging the advantages of this country does not dismiss the nation’s flaws, the nation’s flaws don’t invalidate the good things about America either.People also argue that protesting the national anthem and pledge is a feasible way of protesting the state of the nation as a whole. Frankly speaking, however, this method of protest is just not cutting it. Although Kaepernick’s attempts to protest police brutality were sincere, they were ultimately useless in instigating any significant reforms and only further exacerbated national debates and disunity. If people are looking towards a means of advancing their social causes, peaceful assemblies and petitions are much more effective platforms for enacting change.

It should also be addressed that people choose to ignore the pledge and anthem, not out of concern for the nation, but a lack thereof. Oftentimes, students at school refuse to stand for the pledge simply because they are apathetic of this nation’s rich history—countless people have risked their lives to preserve the rights and liberties that these national emblems signify, and teens nowadays overlook them out of mere indifference. “The student apathy towards the pledge essentially reflects an overall decline in patriotism in our country, which is reinforced by a negative rather than critical view of our history,” Mr. Mangano noted. As citizens of the United States, we should definitely encourage patriotism. In doing so, we can better evaluate our country as a socially progressive community and come to understand the nation’s intricate history and culture.