American citizens should have more pride for their country

By Emma Goodwin

Every once in a while, I get text messages and Snapchats from my good friends and sorority sisters revolving around one topic: Flag code.

The United States Flag Code is essentially a set of guidelines for the manner in which people should treat, display and tend to our country’s flag. While failure to comply with the flag code isn’t enforced, for every person who breaks it, someone’s heart (someone like me) breaks a little bit.

It’s not hard: Don’t use the flag as a piece of clothing (or a toga), don’t draw on it, don’t step on it, don’t let it touch the ground … There is more, but none of it is hard to follow.

I’ve attended years of political government camps, participated in flag burning ceremonies, learned how to properly raise and lower the flag, and I know what each of the folds mean. I’m a nut when it comes to treating the flag — and its symbolism — with respect.

And when I see articles (like this one from Total Sorority Move) praising flag code in our millennial age, my heart begins to soar.

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Nobody cares about Flag Code — heck, nobody knows it exists. And while these “antiquated” practices might not mean a lot, something else has started to die with them: American patriotism.

And if I’m being blunt, that sucks … a lot.

For every ounce of care I have for the flag, I have ten times more love for the country it represents. Most of my friends label me as the biggest patriot they know — and I wear that title as proud as I do my reds, whites and blues.

But it also brings with it a tinge of sadness. America is an amazing country, and I am so lucky to live here and to be able to call myself a citizen of this great nation. I find myself constantly questioning why people don’t approach being an American with the same vigor.

The day that same sex marriage was legalized in our country, there was an outpouring of support — and rightfully so. And while I joined in celebration, I saw many tweets saying things along the lines of, “I never thought I would say this, but I’m proud to be an American.”

You should be proud because you have the right to say that in the first place.

And I was met with similar disappointment again during my hometown’s Fourth of July fireworks celebration. In years past, the fireworks’ background music has been Americana fanfares and anthems – from “American Girl” to “Born in the U.S.A.” or “America the Beautiful.” But this year, Bruce was booted for Bruno and “Jack and Diane” was replaced by One Direction (who are British, mind you).

Time and time again, it’s as if being a patriot or doing patriotic things needs to be excused for some reason. It’s not cool to support America, and while we’ve mostly evolved from spitting on Veterans, we’re burning flags and, perhaps even worse, growing apathetic about our country and ways to make it better.

I guess this could be an overall conversation about apathy. About how annoyingly cliched and monotonous it is for people to not vote and complain about our crooked government anyway. But those truths aren’t what I want to focus on.

I want to focus on the fact that anyone living in America should be proud and grateful, and it’s sad and ignorant not to be.

I will not currently say that I think America is the best country in the world (watch the first episode of “The Newsroom” if you want to know why.)

But I will say this:

Aside from the fact that we always seemed to be defined by our sparkling promise of freedom, America is an amazing country that comes to the defense of others — giving “more than twice as much foreign aid” than any other country. It may have taken us a while, but we did legalize same sex marriage with a sweeping motion. We are a diverse population that continues to be more representational by the day.

We are home to Taylor Swift, Beyonce, Chris Pratt and Nicholas Cage — all of whom are national treasures (do you see what I did there?). During times of devastation and great tragedy, we all pull together. We are innovative people — and as citizens, people risk their lives every day to keep us safe.

Under no pretenses are we perfect, even as some people try to pretend we are. We have a lot of work to do, but some day, we could be the best country in the world.

But tomorrow, and every day that follows it, I’ll be extremely proud of the country I wake up in and call my home.

I will show that through my love of the flag and my care for it — because that’s what the flag symbolizes. With every action, I will show my pride in America.

And during this post-America’s-Birthday slump, you should find reasons to feel the same way. You don’t have to show it through knowing the folds of the flag, but I have hope that one day, you might get there.

Emma is a junior in LAS.

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