There’s a word thrown around a lot. It inspires passionate debate and is worn like a badge of honor, and with good reason. Because it means love and devotion for one’s country. Love. For a word designed to unite, it can also be pretty divisive. You see there’s more to patriotism than flag-sequence 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 different than the real average American. There are 319 million U.S. citizens. Fifty one percent are female. So first off, the average American is a woman. Cool, huh? Is that what you pictured? 54 million are latino. 40 million are senior citizens. 27 million are disabled. 18 million are Asian. That’s more people in the U.S. that play football and baseball combined. Nine million are lesbian, gay, bi or transgender, more than the entire amount of people in the state of Virginia. Around 10 million are red-head. 5.1 million play Ultimate Frisbee and three and a half 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, Afircan-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 things that makes 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 our country’s name… The UNITED STATES.
This year, Patriotism shouldn’t just be about pride of 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, whenever you feel the urge to don those star-spangled shorts or to set off fireworks the size of my biceps to show love for our country, remember to love America is to love all Americans. Because love has no labels.”