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Being an American is an abstract concept.
Sure, you can condense it down to being born in this country or becoming a U.S. citizen. However, there are still nuances about what it means to not only be an American, but an American patriot. The idea of patriotism brings out certain images, mostly of those within the armed forces and fighting overseas. Yet, what if you’re not in active duty? What if you’re just a citizen at home?
Patriotism doesn’t have to be contained to actions performed outside of the country. For the average American, there are many activities you can do to express your love for the United States. If you’re concerned about how much it will cost, especially if you really want to show your support, don’t worry! You can be a patriot with little to no cost. Although some of these actions will vary depending on your resources, becoming an American patriot at home can be done by doing the following:
Taking part in one of the honored aspects of being an American is a great way to show your patriotism. Whether it is at the local, state, or federal level, voting allows your voice to be heard through the democratic process as you elect people to enrich the lives of you, your family, and your neighbors. No matter what you put down on your registration card, voting is a right afforded to you that cannot be forgotten. Nevertheless, important steps, such as registering, must be taken in order for your vote to count.
You can register to vote in person and online as well as see whether or not you’re still in the voter rolls if it’s been awhile since your last election. You can also show your patriotism by helping others register to vote at major events like town halls, block parties, or town celebrations. This not only gets your community involved, but also gives a proper representation of what your town or city wants in an elected official or local amendment. Vote during the primaries, general election, special elections, or whenever your town or city has the opportunity.
Donating to Soldiers
While men and women continue to fight in the Middle East and beyond for our freedom, you can ensure that they have proper supplies through distinguished organizations. Each year, numerous charities gather toiletries, food, and personal items for our troops. Soldiers’ Angels in particular takes in donations from baked goods to personalized care packages, while Operation Gratitude collects cell phones and monetary donations to fund bundles.
If you have children in school, they can take part in the process. Organizations such as Operation Shoebox take donation drives from schools for active soldiers. You can also leave personal notes thanking them for signing up to keep us safe and inspiring them in times of struggle. Regardless of whether you donate one time or make it a yearly event, making sure that soldiers have comfort and care items is an excellent way to contribute towards your American patriotism.
Raising Your American Flag
The American flag is the symbol of U.S. excellence. There’s arguably no greater way to express your love for this country on your front lawn than with Old Glory flying high in the sky for your friends, famly, and neighbors to gaze at with approval. Whether you choose a flag fashioned onto a 20 ft. flag pole or one fixed on a 6 ft. wall-mounted pole, you can let your neighbors know how much of a patriot you are. However, flag flying is a respectful moment, and it should be treated as such every time. Before you fly your flag, you need to understand some general principles in order to be a true American.
There are certain guidelines that go along with raising your flag, aptly called the U.S. Flag Code. These rules include proper position, usage, and display of the American flag. Typically, your American flag has to be brought in before night, but it can stay outside with proper illumination. If you want to go even further with your display of this iconic symbol, you can add other representations of the American flag outside. From American flag bunting to smaller flags in your lawn, keeping this image present shows your gratitude for this country and those who fought for it.
Understanding American History and Civics
Did you know that nearly a quarter of Americans don’t know how many amendments are in the Bill of Rights? Many others don’t know who their senators are or who were allies during World War II. This isn’t a new occurrence, as knowledge of historical events and basic civics has ebbed and flowed through the years.
Part of being an American is being an informed American. To do your part as a patriot, it is important to understand key elements of how the government is set up, such as checks and balances, the House of Representatives and Senate, and the amendments to the Constitution. It’s also key to understand how the United States has grown as a nation since its birth and the substantial moments it's had, both successfully and critically.
Taking Care of Each Other
As Americans, we pride ourselves on our individuality and personal achievements. While celebrating your love for this country can be a solo effort, it is your ability to help your fellow man or woman that can set you apart from those that say they are patriotic and those that are patriotic.
Helping your community can be done in many ways. Volunteering at a soup kitchen or for your local Habitat for Humanity helps those who are facing financial hardships with compassion, comfort, and supplies. Financial donations to charities or crowdfunding, whether it is for childhood ailments, restoration after a house fire, or general benevolence funds, ensure that they can get support as quickly as possible. Even something as simple as helping someone with a flat tire or helping the elderly cross the street shows that as Americans, we stand together.