Patriotism. There’s a word thrown around a lot.
It inspires passionate debate. It’s worn like a badge of honor, and with good reason. Cause it means love and devotion for one’s country.
Love? For a word to designed to unite, it can also be pretty divisive.
See, there’s more to patriotism than flag-sequined onsies and rodeos and quadruple cheeseburgers. Patriotism is love for a country. Not just pride in it.
But what really makes up this country of ours? What is it we love? It’s more than just a huge rock full of animals like cougars and eagles, right?
It’s the people.
Do me a favor. Close your eyes for a second. I want to try something out.
Picture the average U.S. citizen. Think about it. How old are they? What’s their hair like? How much can they bench? You got one? Okay.
So chances are, the person you’re picturing right now looks a little different than the real average American.
There are 319 million U.S. citizens. 51% are female. So first off, the average American is a woman. Cool, huh? Is that what you pictured?
54 million are Latino. 40 million senior citizens. 27 million are disabled. 18 million are Asian. That’s more people in the U.S. than play football and baseball combined.
9 million are lesbian, gay, bi, transgender - more than the entire amount of people that live in the state of Virginia.
Aroung 10 million are redhead, 5.1 million play Ultimate frisbee and 3.5 million are Muslim... triple the number of people currently serving in the United States military.
Almost half the country belongs to minority groups. People who are lesbian, African-American and bi and transgender and Native American and proud of it.
We know that labels don’t devalue us, they help define us. Keeping us dialed into our cultures and our beliefs in who we are - as Americans.
After all, what’s more American than freedom to celebrate the things that make us, us.
I mean, it’s stitched into the stars and stripes of this country. From the Constitution to Gettysburg, to our motto, "E Pluribus Unum" - "From Many, One".
It’s even in our country’s name: the UNITED States.
This year, patriotism shouldn’t just be about pride in country. It should be about love. Love beyond age, disability, sexuality, race, religion and any other labels.
Because the second any of us judge people based on those labels? We’re not really being patriotic, are we?
So let’s try this one more time. Close your eyes. Picture the average Joe or Joan or Juan or Jean-Luc. The real people who make America, America.
And this year, maybe you feel the urge to don those star-spangled shorts and set off fireworks the size of my biceps and show love for our country?
Remember that to love America is to love all Americans.
Because love has no labels.