Is Patriotism Dead?
But many of our people will offer no salutes, feel no sense of pride, and pledge no allegiance to the flag. Some will not respond because of indifference or calloused hearts. Others will be working to tear the fabric of our national life to shreds; to worsen, not heal, our sickness; to destroy, not to build; to bring disunity, not unity, to the nation. For them, patriotism is dead; love of country is archaic. Far from echoing the words of Stephen Decatur, "Our country, right or wrong," they will even refuse to say, "My country when it is right."
Perhaps the time has come for us to read again the stirring words of the Declaration of Independence:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness—That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, that whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles, and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience bath shown, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.
We do well to ask: Has the time come for us to abolish what our forefathers created? Has their vision of liberty, justice, and happiness proved unattainable? Ought we now to burn the flag, send our congressmen home, and close the doors of the White House?
Are we ready to say that the mythos, the heroes, and the folk tales that have bound us together as a people for almost two hundred years no longer enthrall us? Are we willing to forget our common heritage, dilute our sense of fraternity and destiny, and dissolve the cohesiveness that made us one?
The American dream that drew millions of immigrants as a magnet attracts metal has not been wholly fulfilled. We are faced with grave and challenging problems in our national life. We see many things we dislike, and can point to many injustices that have not yet yielded to truth and righteousness. But even as we acknowledge the defects we cannot forget the victories. The slaves have been freed; universal suffrage has become a reality; startling advances have been made to assure all our people of life and liberty as well as the right to pursue happiness.
Unlike millions of people in Russia, Czechoslovakia, China, and Cuba, our people walk as free men across our broad prairies and along our city streets; unlike the avantgarde Communist writers who languish in concentration camps or lie in unmarked graves, our people are able to write freely and to dissent vigorously while the whole weight of government, court, and police protects them in their rights and in their persons. The doors of our churches are open, the Bible is read, and the pulpits are free to sound forth the glories of our God. Church is separated from state and freedom of religion is no fond dream—it's real. Our coins say: "In God we trust." Our presidents take their oath of office on the Bible. We still pledge allegiance to a nation "under God." In a spirit of hope and pride we can sing: