Younger Americans Are Less Patriotic. At Least, in Some Ways.

They are less devoted to symbols of the nation, like the flag. But they are supportive of ideals like democracy and equality.

Comments: 234

  1. I started subbing in schools and was surprised to find out that many of the schools I worked in do not do the Pledge of Allegiance. It is up to the principals to decide. Some teachers have a flag; many do not. Also, many schools do not play the National Anthem before games. I sub in public schools and I found that curious.

  2. I am a gen xer. I was extremely proud of the American flag as a child- singing to it at school, swim meets, many community gatherings. I moved overseas at 8 and learned to temper my US patriotism because my new international classmates scoffed at the rhetoric. By the time 9/11 occurred though, and I was in my early 20's and had a real cynicism about America. The Bush election exposed a cultural split between nationalistic middle America and the more international coasts. At this time, the flag - which was posted in certain windows and on conservative media- felt like a co-opted symbol of those who wanted to bomb someone in response to 9/11, and came to represent the bully - the arrogance and ignorance- that American patriotism had engendered. While my own sentiments have evolved and my appreciation of American freedom rebuilt, I think Millenials grew up with the flag representing 1/2 of the country not our unity.

  3. I am a millennial, 27 and working full time now, and the results of this survey make perfect sense to me. I am very much proud of America and the opportunity it can provide people, and even proud of my ability to criticize the things that I disagree with. But to me, the flag doesn't represent those things, it represents conservative republicans' view of America. And since I disagree with a lot of that, I have very mixed feelings about the symbol of our flag.

  4. Go abroad for a while. Then see how you feel when you see the American flag, especially on foreign soil (typically at the US consulate).

  5. I am one of the oldest members of the Silent Generation, just about to turn 84. Contrary to survey results, I totally agree with you and am proud of my grandchildren who are your age. Remain suspicious of flag waving jingoists and their self-serving deceit. Be true to your own beliefs and pay no attention to those who try to scold you into doing otherwise.
    Do not believe this malarkey about those of us who served during the Korean and Cold Wars having done so out of patriotic fervor. We did so because of a draft law and that left us no choice. As draft bait we found ourselves unemployable. Some of us volunteered, but really just to get that resented obligation over with, so that we could get started with real life. My hope for you is that you will not have to do the same.

  6. Its true the flag is just a symbol, but it was created long ago before there was "conservative" and "liberal", and even "democrat" vs. "republican". The flag itself has nothing to do with conservative republicans. As a symbol, it represents things like the 650,000 Americans that died in the war to free the slaves.

  7. Ummm..."the Silent Generation fought both the wars in Korea and Vietnam"?? Yes, Korea, but not Vietnam. They may have been the generals in charge, but the baby boomers were born in 1946 to 1964 and hence were the 18-year-olds getting drafted to go to Vietnam from 1964 until the draft ended in 1973. I graduated high school in 1972, and I distinctly remember my (male) friends getting their draft numbers and the relief we all felt as the war wound down.

  8. I know people who fought in both Korea and Vietnam, so your statement is not true.

  9. There are also men from the Silent Generation who are considered both WWII and Korean vets.

  10. The page one teaser for this story reads: "The Upshot: Patriotism in America Is on the Decline 6:00 AM". The headline reads: "Younger Americans Are Less Patriotic, At Least, in Some Ways." Each of those headings is misleading, at best.

    The story is pretty much captured in one paragraph:
    "But the decline seems to have more to do with reactions to the symbols of American democracy than its values. Older Americans remain remarkably high in their devotion to symbols like the flag, while young citizens are cooler toward Old Glory but express higher support for classic American ideals like equality and opportunity."

    The survey examples, demonstrate that meaningful patriotism is on the rise, whereas, blind attachment to hollow, often equivocal, symbols, is on the decline.

    I hope that is true. However, the situation is more complex than that. What we do not see is young people adequately devoting their time and effort to translating ideals into action, by devoting time and effort to become involved in political institutions.

    The tendency is toward rationalizing that they can better be true to their ideals by being "independent", rather than partaking in the "dirty business" of politics. In addition, they are voting less, particularly in local elections.

    Unless they start influencing the political parties, locally and nationally, their patriotism will achieve little. By opting out they may actually be enabling those who manipulate empty patriotism for personal benefit.

  11. You really need to live outside the USA for some period of time to evaluate your patriotism.

    It is easy, when in the US to applaud, deride or be indifferent to one's "allegiance to the flag".

    Only when your citizenship is put to the test on a regular basis do you realize where your heart lies.

  12. I agree. So many Americans don't appreciate what they have. They need to live abroad for a while, especially in a third world country, to realize how great of a country America is.

  13. Born in 1945... I am at the cusp of Boomers.... But sadly the pride and patriotism that existed at the end of WWII when I was a child has not been renewed. The long battle during the cold war, followed by a long string of very questionable hegemonic adventures, led by a bunch of guys like Dick Cheney and W has truly sapped the nation. Compare them to Roosevelt and Eisenhower.

    Couple this with the financialization and exploitation of the middle / working class by neo-liberals and you have a period of 40 years decline in practice of democracy and ~ near complete loss of global admiration and prestige.

    The US is no longer the shining beacon of freedom and democracy but has become the country of greed and petty ideology!

  14. Only if we let it. There are more of us than them.

  15. "Patriotism" has been re-defined by those on the right who hijacked it after 9/11. It's now an embarrassing display of eagles, snakes, the stars and stripes, flaunted by chest-beating, gun-slingers. True American patriotism is not about the flag, and testosterone. It's about ideals. Thank goodness for a younger generation that gets that.

  16. But isn't it amazing the number of flags you see flying every day? Hmmmmmm.

  17. Those ideals where won on the battlefield. By chest beating gun slingers.

  18. Evelyn Waugh titled one of his satires 'put out more flags'. That master skewerer of shallowness, hypocrisy, and general intellectual dishonesty was certainly a patriot (and a conservative) and when he aimed a barb it generally hit and drew blood.
    Symbols - the flag, the cross, etc. - are useful tools to manipulate the stupid. You can revere them with no understanding of the principles behind them, but fall into line and waddle behind like ducklings, wherever the symbol-bearer decides to lead you. And it's fatally easy to swop out the cross or the red-white-and-blue, swop in something more pernicious, because the symbol-worshipper is flexible; he's looking for a banner to march behind and as long as it flutters appealingly, he's easiy coaxed into step.
    Read Eric Hoffer's The True Believer for a full disquisition on the type.

  19. I must both agree and disagree. Millennials are just naïve. Their detached ideals are not patriotism. The latter implies willingness to sacrifice to build something. Without the ability to form or maintain institutions, there is no anchor to make things better. That they largely disagree with the ANES statement that inequality is NOT a problem shows hope, but it is misplaced without constructive means to effect change. The Occupy movement showed them incapable of leveraging their peer groups and social media into effective change. At present they are just tourists in the wreckage of empire.

  20. Gee, did you see all those Millennials in Iraq and Afghanistan? I think you must have missed that.

  21. Whaddya mean, "less patriotic"? They still get red-white-and-blue tattoos... even if they don't serve... or know when Flag Day falls (but they can Google it, easily).

  22. It's worth noting that the flag has been (sadly) used as a political wedge in the last decade, which may affect how Millennials perceive it.

    All that being said, plenty of Millennials waved it proudly in Brazil as USA put on an amazing showing!!

  23. That's true. It's the only place where we show patriotism anymore - in international sporting events like the World Cup or the Olympics!

  24. Your asking them canned questions based on pat answers. It's obvious they value the things our country was founded upon. Various groups have claimed ownership of national symbols, and even religion, and they can't stand that, and neither can I.

  25. Millennial here. I can distinctly remember looking at the flag in elementary school and being so proud of the country in which I was born. That patriot became disillusioned during the Iraq/Afghanistan wars, the financial crisis and wall street, LGTB rights, and the current political bipartisanship. The bickering of both sides has led to the theft of our beloved "symbols" of freedom, opportunity, the flag, and millennial want nothing to do with that. People need to wake up and understand the difference between a patriot and a nationalist.

  26. I think patriotism for today could well consist partly in determining to fix the things that need fixing: crumbling infrastructure, schools that could use work in any number of ways, an economic and political system that thrives on indifference to those who struggle just to get by, and so forth. That would be much more productive than any amount of flag-waving and boasting (not that I pin those things on previous generations). It would be good to see the U.S. become more cosmopolitan, less fixated on itself. More study of foreign languages in the schools would be a great start -- it makes English-speakers more literate in their native language, too. And I don't think that need mean we lose the sense of the U.S. being a country of great promise. Finally, if I read the international situation correctly, a lot of people around the world want to like America -- maybe even to love America -- since there really is something special about this place, but sometimes we make it inexcusably hard for them to do that. Too often, we inspire fear rather than "inspire" generally -- a little dose of humility goes a long way when people are afraid of you.

  27. I agree that the US needs a lot of fixing politically, economically and socially, but don't you think the reason we need such fixing to begin with is because we no longer have a sense of who we are as a nation and as a people?

  28. America still has great potential, but it's clearly in decline. The right-wing elite and even some progressives have little interest in the majority except as political cannon-fodder. We need a new progressive movement that isn't focused on race or ethnicity but on the whole. We need a period of careful reform of our constitutional system which is in severe crisis.

    As Winston Churchill put it, "you can usually count on the Americans to do the right thing....after exhausting all the alternatives."

  29. Progressives? The left wing elite is so much different than the right? Foolish.
    B H Obama has more in common with Geo. W. Bush than he does with you or me.

  30. Our politicians are out for themselves, not the country. Same goes for our business elites, especially those on Wall Street. Those on welfare just expect to be given everything thanks to the "blame the rich" mentality pervasive in Washington and the media these days. Every man for himself, all that matters is how much money one makes, who cares about the country. Ask not what you can do for your country, ask what your country can do for you. We are a nation rotten at the core.

  31. Caveat: Obama has been quite centrist, not progressive.

  32. Our Founding Father's knew the value of symbols--the flag, the State Seal, the bald eagle--to create the national identity of a new nation. However, it was during the 1970s when protestors of the Vietnam War and the Nixon policies stood up during the Pledge of Allegiance but would not recite it. No one was protesting the flag, but the blind adherence stated in that pledge. The pledge itself has an odd history, first written in 1892, going through a number of adaptations, and then adopted by Congress in 1942. "Under God" was added in 1954. The Supreme Court has upheld that no one is bound to say the pledge. It's probably time to do away with it, and just let the flag proudly wave.

  33. I've refused to recite the pledge for most of my life -- even when I was teaching in a public school -- because of the "under God" line. I can't imagine anything more divisive! Which god? Only one god? Why not a goddess? And no, I don't believe that the JudeoChristian god favors the US over any other nation, nor do I believe that my country is particularly godly, god-fearing, god-loving, or what have you.

  34. Making children pledge their allegiance to the flag and solute the flag daily while it's being raised is the only thing that keeps us all American anymore.

  35. Beth Ann: Just so we're clear - are you saying that what makes us American is the demand that we all say what we are told to say regardless of whether we agree with it?

    That's not the behavior of a free country - an expression of admiration for America should be freely given out of a true support for the country, not forced on kids in a quasi-religious ritual they hate.

  36. There is nothing here about demographics other than age. How much of this remains when the changing ethnic and socioeconomic makeup of the population is accounted for?

  37. It should be obvious to most that liberals and progressives are the least likely to be patriotic. The First Lady had famously extolled when the President was elected that she had never been proud of being an American until that moment. Interesting coming from a person who went to Princeton on a scholarship. President Obama has clearly shunned the idea of American exceptionalism, both at home and abroad. His apology tour clearly didn't help the cause of Nationalism. These statements have an unintended effect on the psyche of the younger generation, who clear revere this President. Yes, this administration has been trying to "change" this country. It remains debatable whether this "change" is for the better!

  38. Read the entire quote as to what she said and not get your talking point from a Fox News excerpt.

  39. What apology tour? Find me a quote in context that remotely supports this claim.

  40. ClassWarfare's comments are utter rubbish. Patriotism is measured in many ways, and I refuse to offer blind allegiance to those whose imperialism is the dominant theme of their pride in nation. If you are troubled by Michelle Obama's admittedly in-artful utterance about pride in America, I invite you to grow up as a black in a nation with a long, shameful history of mistreatment of African-Americans before you pass such judgment. I am insulted when critics claim the president is on an "apology tour" when what is really at work is we have a chief executive whose first (and only) instinct in dealing with challenging international issues is not to send in troops by the thousands. The significant damage that has been done to our international reputation will not be repaired in the course of one presidency. If we manage to engage with the world, rather than try to make it knuckle under to our immense military and economic power, then we can begin for form a nation that is truly deserving of its citizens' patriotism.

  41. There is a difference between patriotism and nationalism. To me, the veneration of the flag, including daily recitations of the pledge in schools, is blind nationalism.

    Real patriotism is rooted in the acknowledgment that there are positive and negative aspects of one's country, and that there is not only the capability of one's nation to do better (increase equality of opportunity, protect natural resources, encourage peaceful dissent), but the obligation to undertake steps required to make those ideals reality.

    I do not see millennials as less patriotic, but significantly more so as a group than their elders: real patriotism requires work towards change.

  42. Reading this it strikes me that younger Americans have reacted to the over use of singing the National Anthem and politicalization of flying the flag. We didn't use to sing the national anthem before basketball games. We use to sing "Take Me Out to the Ballgame", not "God Bless America", during 7 inning stretches. We didn't have armed Tea Party types flying the flag at their gatherings and implying that anyone who disagreed with them was not patriotic.

    I know some of this stuff makes 1st Responders and Veterans feel appreciated and wanted. And I know, I have always taken pride in seeing the flag flying in a foreign country when I was in sight of the embassy or consulate. But I am also tired of how it seems to intrude upon every public event. Declaring I am a patriot at every opportunity, when living as a good citizen is a multi-faceted process, just seems excessive.

    I am 60 and I'm not sure where I would have come out on this scale because my reaction to seeing the flag depends on the circumstances.

  43. A flag used to represent a unique culture, heritage, and nation. The US isn't any longer unique in any way shape or form and it is completely culturally ambiguous. So the flag simply doesn't mean much except to older generations who actually grew up in an environment more in tune with that heritage and culture.

  44. "older generations who actually grew up in an environment more in tune with that heritage and culture"

    Back in those older generations there were women, people of colour, LGBT, disabled folks, silently contemplating how their place was in the lower rungs of the traditional heritage and culture. Are you sure that flag meant quite so much to them?

  45. Mr. White, as one of those "younger Americans" myself, you are totally correct that the overuse (and misuse) of our national symbols is one of the major reasons why my generation is not drawn to the flag-waving and anthem-singing that seams to define so much "patriotism" today.

  46. Flags are basically military signalling technology. Other visual political symbols include national seals and the images of "national" birds, flowers, and trees, or of historical buildings or physical landmarks, or the outline of a map of the national territory (or even just its shape -- the "hexagon" for France). Then there are national anthems and mottoes, and of course the person of the monarch in some countries.

    I'm sure lots of people feel affinity for national symbols that are not entangled in divisive questions.

  47. Patriotism is a propaganda system constructed by the Government to gain unbridled support for imperialistic endeavors of a privileged elite. It is refreshing to see our younger generation more concerned about equality of opportunity than mindless allegiance to empty symbols.

    We need much less of "I love my Country,"and much more of "I love my neighbor."

  48. ask not what your country can do for you ask what you can do for your country

  49. Wow. And who do you think will come to your rescue when you get abducted by pirates or get in trouble overseas?

  50. Depending on the political climate, perhaps nobody.

  51. This is no surprise. It's been made abundantly clear by loudmouth politicians, their acolytes, and the media that the only true "patriots" in America are white, straight, gunslinging, fundamentalist Christians with a seething hatred for the rest of the American population.

    In my community, it's common to see the homes of these so-called "patriots" proudly flying the American flag and the Stars and Bars together. It's a mystery how anyone thinks it makes a stitch of sense to celebrate both the USA and a treasonous insurrection to destroy that very nation.

    If this is patriotism, it's no surprise that sensible young people hesitate to embrace it.

  52. It's true. Our overwhelmingly liberal media has made it almost politically incorrect to fly a flag.

  53. No Beth Ann, you got it wrong. Young people do not even consume the mythical "liberal media," rather, the cyclical and repeated co-opting of the flag by businesses, self promoting politicians and political commentators are more likely responsible.

  54. Perhaps we no longer know whose country America is anymore. Everywhere I go I'm surrounded by people of all nationality, speaking all different languages. Thanks to the last 2 decades of over immigration, both legal and illegal, and the liberals' encouragement of multiculturalism over assimilation, the United States these days is more like the United Nations. When you go out to the ethnoburbs, business signs are all in foreign languages, which makes you feel like a foreigner in your own country. The voting ballots have so many languages.

    In our local schools here in the Seattle suburb whites are fast becoming a minority, and blacks are non-existent. Some days I don't even know what country I live in. Los Angeles used to look like 80 suburbs in search of a city, these days with all its ethnoburbs it looks more like 80 nations in search of a nation.

    With a bitterly bickering bi-partisan government and a president completely unwilling to stop the recent surge of illegal migrants, I no longer even feel American, and my family have been here since before the civil war. We are no longer United States of America, we are now the United Nations. What does the United Nations flag look like? Until our borders are secured, that's the flag we should be flying.

  55. Unless you are a Native American (original inhabitants of this country), we are ALL immigrants. My parents spoke no English, but my brother fought in Vietnam. Does that make me and him less American? What makes you American? Unlike many countries, American nationality is not acquired by blood (Juris Sanguinis), but by birth. So unless you are willing to define what American 'blood' is, then you need to accept the changing demographics of this country.

  56. I am sorry you feel that way. I have a number of friends who are immigrants - Iran, Haiti, China - in many ways they are truly more American than I am. Perhaps because they came from other places and lived under different circumstances, they appreciate what the promise of America means more than those of us who have lived here all our lives.

  57. Where I grew up in Queens, each household included parents who were immigrants, who spoke English poorly or hardly at all, from China, Italy, Germany, Cuba, etc. Their children spoke English and tended to value both their original and their native countries and cultures. This is called normal American history. I rather like it.

  58. When I see the flag flying, I am reminded that, in the recent decades, it has become a symbol of division: us, the true, country-loving, God-fearing conservative Americans, vs. them, the godless liberals who are ruining this greatest country on Earth. It has become a social and political cudgel, a cover for blind adherence to unexamined convictions, the refuge of many a scoundrel in public office. None of that makes me feel good at all.

  59. Once a symbol, today the flag is a logo. Nothing more, nothing less.

  60. @ NYCATLPDX
    No, friend, it is much more than a logo. The flag has been misappropriated as a propaganda cudgel by the most backward-looking segments of American politics. It is being used as a convenient fig leaf (that is, a bumper sticker) for the safe, uncritical stock convictions about the nation’s greatness. It is more or less the symbol of a popular patriotism that exacts no higher price than that of a piece of cloth.

  61. When your country is 'led' by a president whose first act is to go on an apology tour, and whose wife said the first time she was proud of her country was when she was nearly 50 years old, what would you expect?

    The Obama's impact on our county has been thwarted in large part by Congress (thankfully), but his belief that America is not exceptional has influenced young people in ways that will take years to overcome.

  62. I believe you have it precisely backwards. The polls show that this generation (and Obama voters generally) has more belief in the principles of democracy and equality than prior generations. They prefer building a more perfect Union to 'my country right or wrong'...sounds like a big improvement, a desire to make America more exceptional, you might say. Too bad the President has failed to realize this.

  63. You know, a lot happened before 2008 that has affected people's view of this country and we get to know more and more as we age individually. Those who have the same view of the country as an adult as they did when they were kids are pathetic. As for being wary of the flag, the tea party and others aggressively brandishing it are more to blame than anything else happening since 2008.

  64. Haven't loved my country since the rage of the Vietnam war of aggression in the 60s. Successfully avoided the draft and have never regretted this. Can't see this country in the same light I did as a kid.

  65. I am of the baby boomer generation but I have never understood the concept of being "proud" of having been born in one place rather than another. I certainly count myself lucky to have been born in the US instead of perhaps Afghanistan or Sudan, but I had no role in it that should engender pride. I would LIKE to feel proud of my country but our global and domestic behavior makes me feel more disgusted than anything.

  66. W.S. Gilbert ably parodied that in HMS Pinatore:
    For he is an Englishman!
    For he himself has said it,
    And it's greatly to his credit,
    That he is an Englishman!
    For he might have been a Roossian,
    A French or Turk or Prooshian,
    Or perhaps Eye-tal-eye-an!
    But in spite of all temptations
    To belong to other nations,
    He remains an Englishman!
    It is true, though, that pretty much all of us either started out elsewhere and came here, or are descended from people who did.

  67. And look what we did to the Native Americans as we increasingly
    "discovered" their land.

  68. The farther you move from left to right on the chart, from the "greatest" generation to the milennials, the easier the basics of life have been. The "greatest" generation worried about survival during the depression and WWII. Korea and Vietnam were realities for boomers. God and country and their symbols were important things which brought together Americans. Millennials have never had to worry about getting enough calories to eat. Fighting for their country is optional. Many latch key kids. Half the families separated by divorce. Is it any wonder they have problems dealing established institutions.

  69. the usa came into ww2 very late and after the war had already started to turn thanks to Britain, Canada, Australia, new Zealand, polish pilots during the blitz, free French, others too but most of all the soviet union. the whole 'greatest generation' thing apparently only means americans. insulting and factually incorrect. not a good combination.

  70. Equating patriotism with waving flags and singing songs? What nonsense.

  71. Equating patriotism to the what now seems a requirement of politicians or candidates for office to wear an American Flag pin upon their lapel also seems nonsensical.

  72. And of course now that the President wears a flag lapel nobody on the Right seems to -- at least not the pundits and politicians on TV.

  73. This is the result of having people who, repugnantly, and jingoistically, use the flag and other symbols(think freedom fries), verbal and image based, to whip others they deem inferior or just plain wrong and invalid as human beings, holding up their hollow patriotism as justification for their useless and xenophobic reactions, "ideas", and "philosophies". Their embracing and championing of beliefs that so many Americans and others died or were wounded defeating in WW II, is simply disgusting.
    This has all served to turn reasonable and rational people of this generation off to patriotism or at least the type of patriotism exemplified by these peoples' actions.
    Just the same way that the Religious Right, and now the SCOTUS, has turned them off to religion and faith.
    Despite some things I observe as negative about this generation I am confident in them as holders of the future, thanks chiefly to their abhorrence of xenophobia. They are more open to the world and each other as human beings.

  74. Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.
    - Samuel Johnson April 7, 1775

    No one has made a bigger display of pretend patriotism than the modern Republican Party.

    Congratulations to younger Americans for avoiding the GOP scam and deceit of religious and hypocritical flag-waving.

  75. Yes, Socrates, a patriotism composed entirely of worshiping symbols while repudiating the very core of the American experiment - founded on equality, that every citizen has the right to vote, that the government - including SCOTUS - not coerce anyone to abide by someone else's pre-historic ideas around religion....

  76. 57% of American soldiers have affinity towards GOP. Living under the protection of those people and then insult those people on july 4th...New kind of Americans...Shame...

  77. Let's be clear: "Patriotism" means two things: (1) Truly loving your country; and (2) Wanting it to be, and actively seeking to make it, the best it can be.

    Other supposed attributes of patriotism are often false and destructive. Belief in "American exceptionalism"? ANTI-patriotic. It interferes with #2, above. A "love it or leave it" mentality? ANTI-patriotic. Consecration of the flag or national anthem: Irrelevant; does not relate in any meaningful way to #1 or #2, above.

    Those who seek to reduce American militarism and imperialism are patriots; those who seek to besmirch America's reputation in the world, casting us as bullies and uncooperative: ANTI-patriots. Those who every day want America to improve, to change for the better (from a platform that is already very good), to be truly democratic, advanced, progressive, and innovative: These are the TRUE American patriots.

  78. My father, a conservative Republican (back when that term could mean something positive) and a teacher of history, always quoted the amended version of Stephen Decatur's aphorism;
    'My country, right or wrong. When right, to be kept right. When wrong, to be put right.'

  79. If where you were born is your proudest trait, perhaps you should actually do something with your life.

  80. Graham, I couldn't agree more. And, thank Goodness we live in a country where one has the freedom to do so.

  81. My dad was a military officer who died as a consequence of the Vietnam War. He did not swear an oath to the Flag, but rather, to the Constitution, and this is what he gave his life for.

    He, along with every other member of our armed forces, the President, Members of Congress, members of the Federal Judiciary and pretty much every state and local government official in the country down to rookie police officers swears a similar oath to “preserve and protect the Constitution of the United States.”

    Though the Flag and the Anthem are, for me, emotion-inducing symbols of our country, I don’t consider them to rank with the Constitution in importance as a symbol of our shared heritage. Respect for and faith in our Constitution is the thing that makes us one nation, overcoming our disparate origins, not the Flag.

    I’d be far more interested in trends in citizens' understanding, loyalty and affection toward the Constitution than the flag.

  82. "affection toward the Constitution" has become code for the government-is-bad faction who fear science, Obamacare, the EPA, etc.

    The Constitution is a great document, but it was written a long, long time ago and is filled with flaws as illustrated by the role of money in elections, gerrymandering, the proliferation of automatic rifles, etc.

  83. Unfortunately, both the flag and documents such as the constitution, have been co-opted by the right, made into divine symbols, and brandished as weapons, as angry litmus tests of who is 'mercan enough and who isn't.

  84. I agree. The flag, the anthem and other symbols are nice, but the Constitution, the Declaration and others are more important. Their words represent the ideals and hopes upon which this Country was founded.

    Every now and then, I read the Declaration, the Constitution, the Gettsyburg Address and I'm struck by the gravity of the words and ideas.

  85. Personally, I do not consider myself to be a patriot. This country no longer stands for much of anything other than trying to rape and control the rest of the world. I question the intelligence of most of us and do not feel that at home here now. The one exciting thing happening is growing diversity that is developing in spite of our worst intentions. Throughout history nationalism has been and still is dangerous. Nationalism is a nice thing for soccer but quite another when we hear the sabers rattling. Yes and the rockets' red glare too.

  86. Flags can be co-opted by the wrong folks. For instance the yellow Gadsden "Don't Tread on Me" flag is now identified with the Tea Party. However it was a Revolutionary War flag. I am a Son of the American Revolution and I can tell you the Tea Party does not represent the values my ancestors fought and died for but rather it represents values that are anathema to the integrity of our democracy.

    I am also a proud former member of Students for a Democratic Society and a McGovern democrat and the Gadsden Flag more appropriately represents the values espoused by SDS and Senator McGovern and not the right wing screed espoused by Tea Party.

    And speaking of traditions of our country it's a crying shame that the Times has for the last three years not published a copy of the Declaration of Independence of the back page of the first section of the July 4th edition as it had for many generations.

  87. I'm hoping the Draft is reinstated. I hate seeing only poor, and working class men ground up in America's war machine. Let's get the sons of rich families into 'bullet stopper duty' for a change, no loopholes for the well connected and the rich. You get a number and when it comes up, off you go into the infantry. Patriotism restored !

  88. Hey - Royalty serves in the military in England. Why not here?

  89. America's Royalty has a lot more money and power than theirs does.

  90. Well, of course they're less patriotic. They've been told by their leaders that America is a bad country, that they
    should they should be apologists for their country.

  91. ??? Don't know what you're talking about. I"m a gen-X'er, and i'm less patriotic than my parents because i've travelled quite a bit, and have seen first hand that we don't get everything "right". Plus, the flag-waiving psychos like Ted Nugent and Sarah Palin have pretty much ruined the symbol of our flag for me. Just as they'll ruin christianity by increasingly merging it with the Republican platform.

  92. I'm a baby boomer and I've been "told" by HISTORY that my country has a lot to answer for. We've meddled in Latin America since the 1800s and elsewhere in the 20th and 21st centuries, often in the name of democracy when that was largely for making the world "safe" for American business or for cold war alignment. We kidnapped people for slavery and pushed the native Americans around, killing them, taking their land, breaking treaties.

    And then, there is as I mention in my post above, the fallout from the ugly Americans traveling abroad: every American following in their footsteps suffers, whereas every American following in mine benefits because I make an attempt to be a good ambassador.

    But, you appear not to like reality.

  93. I have always considered myself to be patriotic. However It is hard to believe in a country whose leaders feel that political gain is more important than the good of the people, a government that is in gridlock and controlled by the use of the filibuster and the Hastert rule rather than majority vote and a Supreme Court that feels the corporations are people. We engaged in too many useless foreign wars and we don't care for injured vets when they come home.
    I still love this country but it is hard these days.

  94. Larry nails it.

  95. And through it all, Old Glory is either waved vigorously or worn on the lapels of charlatans. Is it any wonder our flag has lost some of its status?

  96. Interesting piece and many well-written, thoughtful responses. Among the points already articulated, I don't see too much about how technology has shaped things. To me, it seems that the rise of individual power has increased the facility to communicate and collaborate globally with like-minded individuals in areas that have nothing to do with politics (eg, clinical medicine). Meanwhile, it also has unfortunately contributed to the building of silos locally, so that people have less incentive to interact with and learn from neighbors with different views and experiences. The youngest among us tend to be more invested in and influenced by technology, so their opinions necessarily are more shaped by it.

  97. What a depressing article. Sure, merely being jingoistic and wearing ones patriotism on ones sleeve is trite, and I too think we lessen the value of things like the national anthem at every sporting event (and poorly done so at that), but a nation, in order to remain a nation, needs a national identity. The trend of dismissing it here, while those who seek to come to America bring their own, spells doom for the country. A sovereign nation, to function well, must share history and ideals and goals. I see us surrendering that to vagueness and a lack of depth ("...distrustful of people" yet "optimistic about the future" just makes no sense if you really think about it).

    As for the assertion in the article that young people express support for ideals like equality and opportunity is is only half an answer without looking into what they actually mean by that term. I would venture a guess that many would be hard pressed to really answer it in the context of America. without spouting internet tropes. Since we do such a bad job of teaching our young about civics (we're really a republic, not a true democracy) and our history (other than a rant from some about how bad it all was and how evil we were/are), it is apparent that many today don't have much of a clue as to how things are designed to run, the actual thoughtful philosophy behind it and so on, thus words like equality become rather hollow. Ideals in a vacuum without a foundational basis can be vapid and directionless.

  98. Well said. My son said in elementary school some of his teachers talked about Thanksgiving like it's a bad holiday, that we shouldn't celebrate it. It pains me. Sometimes I don't even know what holds us all together anymore as a nation. People don't seem to understand that without the love of the American ideals and the flag as the symbol of that ideal, the only thing that holds us together as a society is money. And one only needs to look at China to see what such a country looks like. In fact most of the developing world are societies that have lost their soul, with no national ideal that ties people together. Anything for a buck. The government is corrupt because people think nothing of bribing the government to get what they want, there is no rule of law, factories pollute at will, everyone cheat on their taxes, crimes go unpunished. Most people just want to get rich quick, then immigrate to greener pastures. From China to Russia, Mexico to India, this is what America will look like when we lose our sense of nationhood.

  99. The problem is not the immigrant, although the immigrant has traditionally been blamed. The problem is that corporations are now
    "citizens" and there is an unlimited amount of money they can pour into elections without transparency. The playing field has increasingly gotten less level, especially since the unions have become so much weaker.
    The values of equality, etc., were largely supported - perhaps even created by the unions - and employees everywhere benefited. Watch out now !!

  100. what holds the usa together, often it seems to me, is to find something to demonize. witches, McCarthyism, internment camps during ww2, Japanese economic strength during their run, the soviet union, cuba, Vietnam, Iraq, iran, muslims.......

  101. Patriotism as vigorous support for one's country is good as long as conditions in the country and its behaviour towards other countries and groups are decent and not overtly aggressive. Nationalism, marked by a feeling of superiority over other countries, is negative and often leads to aggression. A reasonable regard for national symbols like flags is fine as long as it binds together a basically good society, but exaggerated nationalistic flag waving and exaggerated use of the flag, is not.
    A country that gives equal chances in life to everybody deserves patriotic support. Of course this condition is never reached in real life, but it is important as an ideal. When I first met America 45 years ago I felt that this ideal was much better realised there than in my home country, Norway. I am glad young people in America still think equal chances are important since this was what favourably defined America for me.

  102. Patriotism is vigorous support for one's country especially when its behavior towards other groups is overly aggressive and indecent. The whole idea is that it's a patriot's job to participate and change the behavior of the government, not to abandon it.

  103. Patriotism too often is turned on its head. Being patriotic should mean asking the tough questions about what your government is doing and supporting truly democratic ideals. Frequently, the people who question going to war or why we have so many people incarcerated are labeled as unpatriotic. Quite the contrary, they are the patriots. It is the jingoistic nationalists who should be branded as unpatriotic.

  104. One sign of the change of attitude toward patriotism is the use of "my country" by current and recent immigrants, to refer to their country of origin. In previous generations, it was the "old country," and the new Americans were either pleased to be here or went back. I'm not saying this is good or bad, just a different attitude that may also be reflective of today's more global outlook.

  105. 34% of silent generation served in active combat vs. 4% of Millenials?

    Do remember that for those born between between 1928 and 1945, that service was restricted to males. For the large part, White males. Not a good comparison since most of Silent Generation remaining are women. Aside from death in combat, including in Vietnam, men just die earlier. If you adjusted that figure for white males, it would probably be much higher. Most men went into WWI and WWII, even those who could barely read or hadn't yet graduated HS. Vietnam had a larger share of deferrals, but most of the men I knew growing up went. If our uncles and brothers and husbands were still alive, the percentage would be even higher.

    I know many Millenials but none who served.

  106. Serving in the military is not a measure of patriotism.

    In fact, joining the military to "serve" in the second Iraq war was a distinctly un patriotic act.

  107. I am a baby boomer. Vietnam, Watergate, our illegitimate excursions into the Middle East under various Bushes, the erosion of women's rights (hard fought for over decades), the increasing acceptance of jingoism, anti-immigrant sentiment and the virulence directed at our first African-American President - plus the yawning gap of income inequality in this country - no, I don't paint my face red, white and blue and bellow "USA! USA! USA!" What an embarassment!

    The flag and other symbols have been co-opted by people whose values have nothing to do with mine. I don't identify with them at all.

  108. This is not the "United" states of American - if it ever was - given the still smoldering embers of the war between the states and for how long there
    were/are? states which flew the Confederate flag in their capitals. This is
    an American where corporations are "citizens" and some of those corporations
    are "too big to fail". Watch out !!

  109. Patriotism is an entirely personal thing. We are entitled to our own concept of it, no matter how it came to be. Mine came from a love of country and a willingness to fight for it as a Navy officer. Others may feel theirs came from service to others. That list is endless. Many simply love their country, plain and simple. The feeling of patriotism means you belong here. The lack of it means you ought to move somewhere else.

  110. Agreed. So what does it mean when so-called 'US corporations (who, by the way, contribute to our elections) decide to avoid paying US taxes by hiding behind a newly-merged partner overseas?
    Actavis to Ireland, 2013
    Chiquita to Ireland, 2014 (pending)
    Abbvie to Ireland, 2014 (pending)
    Medtronic to Ireland, 2014 (pending)

  111. disagree. the lack of it means you might have love of your country but realize it's not perfect--which country is?--and think excessive patriotism has been a problem in too many instances.

  112. Tho you probably don't mean it, your closing sentences sound like "love it or leave it." Which is about as unAmerican a sentiment as one can find.

  113. Jingoism is not the same as patriotism. “My country … right or wrong!” isn’t patriotism. True patriotism is a belief in the ideals and institutions of our democracy … not slavish devotion to its symbols. We can be patriotic and not be swept up into the hysteria we see in our current political climate. We can express our patriotism by being scathingly critical of the threats to our ideals.

  114. I am with the millennials, at least as their position is laid out in this article. Though hardly a millennial at 78, I have long thought veneration of a flag and getting all weepy over the national anthem missed the point of patriotism. The egalitarian and democratic ideals cited here have always been more important and substantive than standing with hand over heart for public display of love of country. And for the record: unlike that greatly patriotic contemporary of mine, Dick Cheney, who blithely and without embarrassment let alone shame, said about himself, "I had other things to do" than serve in the military, while also having other things to do (who didn't?), I found time to serve in the infantry.

  115. On September 12, 2001 many American citizens were stranded in foreign countries as a result of their vacation and travel plans.

    Below is a link to a YouTube video of a portion of the daily changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace, from September 12, 2001

    I challenge anyone who considers themselves to be a "patriotic" American to view this video with dry eyes -- no matter your age, or whatever your political affiliations may be...

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xwrX-LN9-L0

    Happy Fourth of July to all -

  116. I will never forget seeing first-hand from the Promenade at Brooklyn Heights right
    across the East River, the skyline of Manhattan become completely obliterated from view on that sparklingly clear September morning, by the debris and smoke
    when the towers came down. I helped blood stained survivors as they stumbled
    off the Brooklyn Bridge coming from Manhattan. I handed water to people b/c their throats were parched. Later on I assisted the Red Cross in multiple locations
    meeting people from all over the world who came to help. And just now, I saw your posted video. All that good will was destroyed by Bush and Cheney and the neocons. Now this country is almost completely morally bankrupt , having been stolen by the banks, et al.. and we're divided against each other by Tea Partiers who shut down the government and almost had us lose our international credit rating. "Citizen's United" is really citizens divided. "Citizens" are really corporations now. Wake up.

  117. RBG,

    Very well said; such a pity we've permitted and even assisted in our destruction of Liberty.

  118. Thank you for caring to post this tribute.

    Our patriotism is alive and well, in a healthy and unsullied way, especially down here in the ranks of the embattled middle class, and the poor; we would never consider using it as a tool for division.

  119. The most patriotic people in recent memory were those who questioned the ill conceived foray into Iraq, those who bristled at the Patriotic Act and those who hold the Federal , state and local government to a higher standard . Two dozen over sized flags at a car dealership is not patriotic. Wearing a US Flag shirt or wrapping yourself in the flag at some sporting event is disrespectful of the flag. Nothing patriotic there. Some confuse military bluster with patriotism. The Founding Fathers would be aghast at what passes for patriotism these days.

  120. This makes me think about the reaction from some on the right when Chicago lost the rights to the 2016 Olympics. Some people at the time were quoted as saying "well, the US just had an Olympics" or something to that effect. Suddenly, with a Black President at the helm, an Olympics for Chicago would be a gain for the United States and thus a win for President Obama. And the last thing the right wanted was a win for President Obama.

    As for me, I'm in my early 50s and am proud to be an American and I stand by my President. After 9/11, I said that I would "rally around the President" even though I was no fan of Bush. I stood by Bush right after 9/11 because I was an American. However, I didn't drink the Kool-Aid about Iraq and see now that that mission will probably never be "accomplished" no matter whom the President is.

  121. Interesting phrasing: 'When Chicago lost the rights' - that implies the rights were presumptively Chicago's and were taken away from the city by the IOC. American entitlement at its finest. 'When Chicago was not chosen as the host city' would be more accurate.

  122. ACW, I stand corrected but also stand by the rest of the statement that some on the Right were cheering the possibility of a 2016 American Olympics because that would be perceived as a win for President Obama.

  123. Those who blame Obama are ridiculous - they need to look in the mirror (their ignorance, anger, hate), at the House, and to the past.

    The past:
    The ugly American going overseas happened post WWII; their children, such as I, a baby boomer, were very conscious of the ugly American stereotype when we went backpacking and maintained a low profile, some saying they were Canadian or even having a small Canadian flag on their pack. As for wearing the flag, literally, back then, it was almost a counter culture thing such as in Easy Rider - more conservative 'mercans considered it disrespectful, perhaps pretentious and narcissistic.

    Now, it is the opposite: while I would have enjoyed waving a small flag in the past, I now see it as an aggressive tool and symbol co-opted by the right and tea party in particular, associated with their anger aimed at "others" they deem not true 'mercans while brandishing their firearms for reasons based on paranoia rather than reality. Ditto for the flag pins litmus test from a few years ago. Rather than being a symbol tying us together, as it used to be, the flag has become a symbol dividing us.

    Other reasons include my education over the years to our continuing nationalism, selfish meddling in other countries in the name of democracy, when it actually was geo-political regarding the cold war or for American business interests (same thing in the end).

    Many may just have a more realistic view of the country.

  124. The interesting thing about the term 'Ugly American' is that the phrase refers to the title character of a once popular book - but it refers to his face. He's actually a good guy under the mug.

  125. The headline is designed to seed an idea, something mainstream media has become particularly adroit at.

    There is great division in the United States, particularly in the way our young people see things, as opposed to how we older people do.

    Media, except for non aligned upstarts, stopped being a source of information, some decades ago, and now exists to mold opinion, manage perception, with a subtlety that makes their true intent indiscernable.

    Americans today, young or old, are as patriotic as they always were.

    The article should have identified where patriotism has ceased to exist, and has been replaced by an age old philosophy common amongst those who live solely for the accumulation of wealth and power; these self appointed masters of the world see patriotism as a valuable divisive tool to manipulate and distract the masses so they can continue their pursuit of wealth and power.

    We the people are no longer comatose and know full well how we are being exploited.

    There is a fear in the ranks of the .01%ters, a fear that soon or later we will level the playing field.

    Mr. Hanauer writing in Politico, issues a stark warning:

    "You probably don’t know me, but like you I am one of those .01%ers, a proud and unapologetic capitalist. I have founded, co-founded and funded more than 30 companies across a range of industries—from itsy-bitsy ones like..."

    http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2014/06/the-pitchforks-are-coming...

  126. Without the ideals our nation was founded on the Flag becomes an empty quasi-religious symbol. The ideals are the only thing that give the Flag substance. Humans have an age old tendency to worship symbols and deify individuals. Americans are not immunity to that disease. A recent example of this tendency is the 'We the people . . .' slogan apparently used to justify and promote a kind of anarchy. Did the people with those yard signs and bumper stickers ever read the rest of opening sentence of our Constitution, '. . . a more perfect Union' ? A More Perfect Union! That's the exact opposite of the anarchy those yards signs represent. And oddly enough anarchy is the prelude to dictatorship.

  127. The reason for the egalitarianism of younger people is actually fairly clear, and has nothing to do with technology and social media: Kids who were born after 1975 or so were the first generation to be born into a nation where open bigotry was considered unacceptable.

    In the 1950s, politicians routinely used the n-word to describe the people now commonly called African-Americans. In the 1980s, kids were seeing celebrities like Bill Cosby, Michael Jordan, and Oprah Winfrey have real success. In the 1950s, women were expected to be married by age 24 or so, or something was wrong with them. In the 1980s, women were routinely having careers.

    The attitudes that spawned the Civil Rights Movement, the Women's Liberation Movement, and the Gay Rights Movement all have had a major effect on the younger generation. It's not that there isn't racism, sexism, homophobia, and other forms of bigotry, but winning those battles mattered. Thank you, those who fought them!

    So, as one of the older Millenials, I'll proudly celebrate what America still has the potential to be, a nation for all people, regardless of genetics, where each of us is judged by what we do rather than who are parents are.

  128. This article is incomplete.

    The writer does not explicitly state whether attitudes of the older generation changed on "equality" over their lifespans, even though she discussed the same concept regarding the Flag. This is important because people who have gotten older may rationalize more, be less utopian. That would tell us something about whether the younger generation might move on that issue over time, or not.

  129. Our children are millenials - like many of their friends here in the middle class suburbs of Chicago, they've been able to travel overseas. Many of their friends also did a semester overseas during college. This, combined with the internet and global news media, has given many millenials a sense of our nation's context within the rest of the world, understanding that 95% of the people on this planet are not Americans.

    The days immediately following 9/11 generated extreme and genuine patriotism in the US. This was deflated in subsequent years when our young people (and all of us) saw the US get involved in two unnecessary wars, championed by a president who was chasing WMDs and ties to Al-Qaeda that didn't exist. Then we had the financial crisis, which left a lot of millenials graduating from college with tremendous debt and slim job prospects.

    Then, as others have said, they've seen the American flag and other symbols of patriotism co-opted by the ultra-conservatives of the extreme right, who have basically told everyone that if you don't believe what they believe, you're not a patriot.

    Put all of this together, and you have a generation whose perspective on America is very different than that of my father's, who is 82. They may love their country, but they don't look at it through rose-colored glasses where America is the center of the universe. They know that our country has tremendous challenges, along with the opportunities.

  130. Although my father is about the same age as yours and has not seen it through rose-colored glasses since at least the weekend of November 22, 1963 and the Kennedy assassination, followed by the immediate assassination of Lee Harvey Oswald to prevent a trial and exploration of evidence. His faith in America and its "symbols" was further shaken by the subsequent expansion of the Vietnam War; President Johnson's lies regarding same; the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy; followed by Watergate and the rise of former CIA chief George H.W. Bush to the Vice Presidency and Presidency. Iran-Contra and the Savings and Loan scandal did not help either!!

  131. The older generations largely viewed America as a land of hope more than promise. The perceived opportunities available and comparisons to other countries were clear.

    Then came American-lead efforts at more universalism, the League of Nations, the United Nations, and economic and cultural globalization. In addition, our immigrant society matured, and people felt free as Americans to reclaim their varied ethnic roots all over the world.

    At the same time, Americans' material level of comfort increased dramatically, and a governmental social safety net was born, expanded, and went from being a policy option to being assumed. Younger generations could take for granted what previous generations struggled for.

    While each generation compares what is delivered to what is expected, the expectations have changed fundamentally. Previous generations largely viewed the American experiment in terms of freedoms to do things, freedom to speak, worship, start a business, gather together, etc. For the younger generations, the American experiment is more about freedom from things, from discrimination, inequality, failure, etc. Thus, when you question folks in a "patriotism" survey, you are, in a way, asking the generations somewhat different questions.

    I wish the referred survey had broken responses down by immigrant ("citizens born elsewhere" and "citizens born here." My expectation is that the very diverse immigrant population would be more like the older generations.

  132. Why on earth should lower numbers among millennials "give us pause"??? It is a wonderful development! The fewer people who are dazzled by symbols, the better off we all are. Let's hope that the next time our "leaders" wave the flag and use other "patriotic" tricks to sway us into supporting stupid wars and other misadventures, as they did in 2003 with disastrous effect, the millennials among us (and their admiring elders) tell those "leaders" where they can stuff it. This story provides at least a bit of hope that at some point the new generation will help rescue us from our current political abyss.

  133. Agree with you 100%. This article makes me feel optimistic about our future. A nation that values equality over empty symbolism will provide opportunities to everyone, not just a select few.

  134. I'm a Boomer. While I am very grateful to have been born in the USA, I can't say I'm proud. To me, that's different, and the US has done a lot of things in my life of which I am ashamed. It has also done things that would make a citizen proud if so many of them didn't have the tag, "it's about time!" I get so very tired of the Exceptionalism mentality. It's never been, for me, my country right or wrong. When we're wrong, as we often are, we should fix it.
    These days, I think we're broken far more than we are exceptional. We have poor schools, we have the world's most expensive health care (far from the best, too!), and we can't be bothered to try to live by the ideals our founding documents express.
    As for the flag, I'd rather the rights of people mattered more than the rights of a piece of cloth. And I hate the national anthem - so warlike. Just like us, alas.

  135. "While 42 percent of the older generation thinks unequal chances in life are not a big problem, only 20 percent of millennials do. "

    Surely that's because inequality has actually increased. The older generation (or those who were white) didn't have to struggle with it in the same way. The trajectory of their lives was already set by 1980, when the country took its sharp turn toward plutocracy, and their lives in retirement are more shielded by pre-1980 social programs and pension benefits. With all due respect, they can't possibly get it. The perception of millennials or even Gen-Xers has been shaped by post-Reagan social darwinism and the new feudalism. Their perception is realistic and accurate, not a reflection of some imaginary decline of character.

  136. Form the way the questions were formulated, it sounds like equality is a euphemism for entitlement. If so, then the fact that Millennials value it and believe in it is neither surprising not encouraging.

  137. Striving for equality means striving for fairness. Either our system works for the majority -- or we need another system.

  138. It should work for majorities -- and minorities. One nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

  139. Fascinating study to read on this rainy Independence Day. Is the millennial generation a generation of Holden Caufields?

    When I talk with millennials, it feels as if they aren't as deep as we, but our generation was confronted directly by the Vietnam War because of the draft, and civil rights because of the need to confront that problem directly, along with the tragic assassinations of JFK, RFK and MLK. We were pressured by the unqualified success of our parents in their war.

    Those experiences might appear to produce a cynical response to patriotism, but they produced an activism of which one is proud. Patriotism comes from having earned social progress through confrontation. Our war was Vietnam and we have learned to respect our military service in a controversial war. It is deeply ingrained in the boomer.

    The millennial's war is obviously our Middle East confrontations, sans the military draft. The all-volunteer service enables a detachment from the event for millennials. Another curse of the millennial is political correctness. The question arises for them if it's okay to be patriotic if it backs a power that is dominant in the world. It took the breaking of some eggs to make that omelet.

    Millennials are looking for some meaning beyond the party atmosphere and self-infatuation that mark their generation. I don't know if they call out the phoniness that Holden Caufield did, but patriotism evolves one from self-interest because it requires personal sacrifice.

  140. Vietnam was not our egg to break and neither is the Muslim world.

  141. I am weighing the depth of your thought, Suzanne.

  142. Rating patriotism by reverence for the flag and other symbols is a big mistake. When I went in to the Army the vow we took was to protect and defend the Constitution, not the flag. In many cases the flag obscures the Constitution and in fact allows some to ignore it. How else to explain the adherents of Proposition 8 in California ( and other initiatives) claiming that the vote of "the people" is final? The flag has gotten in the way of their seeing and understanding the Bill of Rights.
    Patriotism is not in warming up when the flag flies, or singing the National Anthem, but in preserving the Constitution and rule of law.

  143. A vote of the people in a state SHOULD be the final word on the law in that state, when it applies to those things that are in the power of the state (and not the Federal government). Marriage is one of those things not covered by Federal jurisdiction and therefore, under the control of the states.

    I hope you are as happy when SCOTUS overturns a vote of the citizens that you APPROVE of. It goes both ways.

  144. As I read the comments (103 so far) I am somewhat dismayed by the fact that each generation not only seems to have to reinvent the wheel but that each generation seems to believe it has invented the wheel.

    Moralistic self-righteousness, whether from the Left or the Right, is not a good prescription for improving much of anything in the public realm.

  145. As a child raised in the fifties, I was taught to believe that America was the greatest country because it was the most successful, powerful and prosperous nation on earth, and because our accomplishments reflected our national character of personal initiative, rugged individualism, self-accountability and belief in freedom. Most Americans of my vintage long ago lost track of what was being taught in our schools with regard to history and economics. Having been taught by the universally-aggrieved American left, today's young Americans believe that prosperity can only come at the expense of others and that success is fundamentally unfair to the unsuccessful. Consequently, America's young people -- obsessed with "fairness" and trained to search constantly for win/win resolutions for every issue -- believe that it is wrong for America to even aspire to greater strength or prosperity than other nations. Very clearly, other nations view themselves as being in a global competition for national security, economic advantage, social influence and prosperity. Russia, China and India, in particular, want a bigger piece of the pie. The indifference to this competition that has now been engrained into our young people ultimately will cause America's decline. Patriotism, in today's terms, would be a committed national effort to win the future. America has lost the sense that winning is a good thing.

  146. But as we now have had to acknowledge, a lot of people were not included in that equation. I was also taught those lessons at school and believed them, so imagine my shock as I grew older to learn that some people (the majority of Americans, in fact) were excluded de facto from schools, jobs, housing, bank loans, etc. All the niceties that allow hardworking people to get ahead. Change has not been easy and it is not complete. There are lots of people who would like us to return to the "golden era" of the 1950s when women, people of color, non-heterosexuals, non-Christians were just brushed aside by the law to make way for that narrow segment of Americans who would benefit more fully from the values written into the Constitution. But there is one aspect of the 1950s that does make me nostalgic: a real progressive tax system that acknowledged that we all live in a society and are responsible to that society.

  147. I don't know why this post isn't an NYT pick. It encompasses so many of the attitudes that my generation (and later ones) are rejecting.

  148. To be fair, people of your generation closed down manufacturing in this country and sent it to China and India. This started 40 years (or so) ago. Younger Americans clearly weren't alive then.

    And you're proliferating the myth of rugged individualism and entrepreneurship. You make it seem that in the 1950s everyone was on their own and everyone owned a business. You make it seem like the government sat back and let the market go to work. This was not the case.

  149. Sinclair Lewis said it best:
    "When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross."

  150. It sure can happen here.

  151. As a newly elected Town Clerk, I ran my first Town Meeting this year and looked around for an American flag at the elementary school where the meeting was held. Couldn't find one. When I asked a Select Board member if I should rustle one up, she was horrified. So the meeting started without a flag or a pledge of allegiance.
    Despite that (or maybe because of that) we came together for two plus hours to sort through budgets, approve (or deny) petitions and plan the town's future for an entire year with open discussion and disagreement. Pure unadulterated democracy.
    Gotta love Vermont.

  152. Unfortunately less true in the larger towns of Chittenden County, where the big outside $$ has now begun to intervene. Was reading last year in Seven Days (alternative newspaper for Burlington area) that nonresident real estate developers, industrialists and militarists poured record-breaking sums into the South Burlington City Council race to ensure a pro-F-35 fighter jet majority. According to the article, one of the winning jingoistic candidates (Pam MacDonald?) then repeatedly flaunted campaign finance laws but Vermont's Attorney General did not prosecute her.

  153. Interesting. Good ole Seven Days. I suppose I have to conclude with "Gotta love (small town) Vermont." But I have always felt that much of Chittenden County was more NY than VT.

  154. As a Millennial, personally I'm dismayed by "American exceptionalism" and how the flag, eagles, and nowadays F-16 fighters somehow are the only ways to express this symbolism. What do any of these things have to do with democracy, equality, freedom, prosperity, and, most importantly to me, happiness? Every symbol has some sort of implicit warfare connection and I truly resent that.
    More confusing is the utter ignorance by the masses in this country about where these ideas came from. Democracy, equality, etc were not American inventions. All of these ideas were preceded by the enlightenment thinkers of Europe. Or had some foundations in Greece and Rome. This country just managed to implement these ideals. Contemporarily, other countries have freedom too!
    We should be proud of the longevity of democracy but we shouldn't let our own hubris get in the way of doing better.

  155. oh oh. sounds like somebody is going to be strip searched at customs the next time they return after travelling outside the usa.....sacrilege.

  156. Well-said Daniel. Even so-called liberal Democrats or "progressives" like Senators Patrick Leahy and Bernie Sanders from Vermont are fanatical supporters of the budget-busting F-35 fighter jet & card-carrying members of the military-industrial-Congressional complex. As Lockheed continues its multi-decade long delays on the F-35, other corporate and military welfare allies of Leahy & Sanders (like the Air National Guard) wrap themselves in the flag to hide their dependence on keeping the pork flowing. It would be one thing if multi-weekly flights of the F-16's or F-35s in the future were necessary for America's defense. But given our exponential strategic nuclear advantage, there isn't a country on earth that will attack or invade America directly.

  157. Maybe young people are less patriotic because they have less hope of ever achieving the prosperity and comfort of their parents . America is built on promise

    The other trend this ignores is the inter marriage of different nationalities and dual citizenship. I see a lot more of same.

  158. More so that they have been lied to blatantly, used as sacrificial fodder with coercion, reckless abandon and impunity.

  159. I don't have an emotional response to the flag, eagles or, heaven forbid, Uncle Sam. However, I am a loyal citizen. I believe that this is the very best land of opportunity, where people can change their lives within a single generation. That is very rare. I don't miss an election, and I volunteer in my community...but I don't wear the flag.

    One reason is, of course, that I find the in-your-face flag-waving of the Tea Party very unpleasant.

  160. Americans living abroad have no great reason to be patriotic this July 4th. On July 1, new financial disclosure regulations passed by Congress several years ago went into effect in foreign countries, imposing extra reporting requirements on foreign financial insitutions which do business with Americans. Increasingly, Americans living abroad are finding it more difficult to open a bank account or to get a bank loan or a mortgage. Foreign banks don't want the reporting headaches. Neither so some US mutual funds.

    While the intent of the new rules was to catch big time American tax evaders who keep large amounts of untaxed cash abroad, the reporting burdens are falling mostly on average Americans who really can't afford to hire expensive accountants to comply with US tax law. While it was very easy for Senator Ted Cruz to renounce his Canadian citizenship, it is a lot more complicated and expensive for Americans abroad do do the same. For US tax purposes, the definition of "American" is a lot more encompassing than you might think.

    The new regulations being imposed on Americans abroad make King George's tax on tea sold in the 13 colonies (3 pence per pound in the early 1770's) seem like a drop in the bucket. The Land of the Free and Home of the Brave has become the land of the bully.

    Read here (especially the comments section): http://www.forbes.com/sites/janetnovack/2014/07/02/u-s-taxpayers-with-se...

  161. Patriotism has always struck me as kind of a joke. Last year when I was in Greece I got to talking to a guy who was from Sparta. He went on and on about how great Spartans were, compared with Athenians. Really.

    As for US symbols of patriotism, unfortunately, they're tainted. Yes, it is a symbol of many great leaps forward in human progress. But there are good reasons it produces the ire to make people want to chant and set it on fire.

    I think people are people and the world is a big, complicated and contradictory place. I'd really rather not get involved in chants of USA, USA, USA! Isn't it just better on this July 4 to watch some great international soccer and marvel that at least for a month a year the USA doesn't have to worry about whether it's "the greatest." That is really not the point.

  162. Or rather a month every four years...

  163. I am a boomer but also a naturalized citizen -- that means American by choice -- because of the ideals and values expressed in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. I have also been privileged to wear the uniform of this nation for thirty years -- of that I am especially proud. I am also an African-American, which means that there is a portion of this nation's history which is painful to me and others who choose to be aware of it. Instead of being burdened by this reality, I choose to move forward, mindful of the past but determined to fashion a better future for my family, community and all Americans.

    What enrages me is that some on the right have redefined patriotism to mean jingoism. Many of these same Americans have attempted to rewrite history into narratives which don't make them quite so uncomfortable and, in some cases, deny it outright. The very essence of being an American is to express your doubts about the wisdom of a particular course of action without your allegiance to the country being called into question. Today, what passes for public discourse is opinions shouted over the airwaves, with little or no thought behind them, backed up with a threat of violence supposedly envisioned and promoted by the Framers in the Second Amendment.

    I think patriotism is celebrating a brilliant concept which has been flawed in the execution but is still worth trying to get right.

  164. You have eloquently and in entirety expressed my thoughts exactly. I would like to add that I am appalled by a Congress where Patriotism seems to have disappeared. I am hard lined enough to label those who obstruct, will not compromise, but for obvious reasons will not allow America to go forward to label them in my mind as treasonous! Treason is betrayal of trust. In this country, one of the operative words is "equality". That means "our country". Not blue or red, yours or mine, but any patriot will recognize that only when we work together will we be strong and respected. Patriotism does not necessarily mean flying the flag, it means working for the good of ALL, and being on your knees grateful for what others over the last 200+ years have given their lives for you to live in a country with unlimited potential, and EQUALITY for all.

  165. "Patriotism" in this day and age can be equated with 1) a certainty that you are correct 2) a certainty that the USA is the "best country in the world" (despite the fact that you probably have not visited any other countries; 3) a certainty that the US has the best this and that in the world; 4) a certainty that we could never possibly learn anything from another country; 5) a certainty that every other country wants to be like the US. No thanks.

  166. Embracing American symbols is far less a sign of commitment to this country than participating in the democratic principle of representation, namely, voting.

    If younger generations wish to influence this country and thereby protect their options and ideals, they must begin to vote in the numbers that matter.

  167. Vote for whom? More of the same -- or the lesser of two evils?

  168. Let them choose...its their future.

  169. If only there was someone to vote for!

  170. Nazi Germany was based on and built on patriotism.

  171. A lot of other ingredients went into that stew, including poverty and humiliation as a result of the punitive peace of Versailles; a tradition of antisemitism going back hundreds of years, and not exclusive to Germany; again as a result of Versailles and the careless postwar practice of redrawng boundaries with no regard for who might be inside or outside them, the reassignment of nationality for thousands of people and places that didn't entirely correspond to their history. Patriotism, and particularly Naziism, provided a focus for these disparate restless energies, like a lens concentrating the sun's rays on a spot to start a fire.

  172. Those of us in the "Silent Generation" have watched what I'd call the "Great Unwinding:" the years when our nation peaked and headed down the long road into decay. It's no longer politically-correct to say that we stood proud, but we once could rightly say so, and did.

    I have no doubt that in the years ahead there'll be many an analysis of what happened, but it may all come to our losing the meaning of "serve." To serve is to give freely of ones' self to country and neighbor, sometimes sacrificially, with no expectation of direct reward. To serve is to care, and not just for one's wallet or political viewpoint. To serve is to listen, to tolerate, to consider the impact of personal belief on others. When that is lost, the rot in the foundation begins, and has.

    The Flag (capital F) flies in my front yard, and the POW/MIA flag below it. When I see it I am reminded of the sacrificial service given me by those who came before. I am in their debt. I can only hope that when I'm gone I've passed a bit of that to others.

  173. I'm surprised that this comment received only 9 recommends. The writer's comments about service ring especially true to me. Service can take many forms, but it seems that the desire to serve is slowly being replaced by other, more base, more crass desires.

  174. I am very surprised as well Patrick but I agree with everything mossblom wrote.

    To serve without an expectation is to serve honestly and with sincerity of heart.

  175. One wonders how the Millennials will feel when they realize that their employers and the companies that make the things they buy have executed 'inversions' (mergers with foreign companies for the purpose of paying less US tax).
    These company CEOs, mostly US citizens are setting a bad, cynical, unpatriotic example for our youth.

  176. Some people, like the authors of today's article on Obama's anti-terror efforts forget that Americans were sent to fight in Iraq and 600,000 Iraqis died as a result, which should give pause, not adrenaline for more American deaths. Historically, we fought and 58,000 Americans died in Vietnam, while 1.3M Vietnamese also paid for it with their lives....when will people ever learn that peace can only be won by acting peacefully and giving up barbaric religious and economic-politik ties that only cement bad blood and internecine conflicts, conflicts that cannot end unless one side or both is actually dead.....Americans can live without the guilt of our brethren killing each other in in Asia and Africa, and don't need to sacrifice American lives to keep them from killing each other over their religious differences.....that is a basic historical fact that military-industrial complex supporters (and so called patriots) don't get.....religion is as great a barrier and as great a weapon as the economic-pollitik that they represent with their fancy cars and elite weaponry, and unless the actual combatants abandon their politically-driven religions, there will be no end to their fighting and no need for a single American soldier to die trying to straighten them out....that's patriotic, no American deaths fighting to stop barbarians from fighting religious wars.

  177. As an 18 year old, I'm currently reading this article in my American flag shorts and tank top. Opinions vary among the young.

  178. I've always felt patriotism is a hard one to define. Is waving the flag patriotic? Seems so. Is being a good citizen patriotic? I would say yes. Is blindly following and supporting a candidate of a political persuasion just because he/she says they are patriotic being patriotic? That is where I draw the line. It sickens me that every year around July 4th, we see a multitude of symbolism without a shred of reality: Witness on national TV commercial with Uncle Sam and Thomas Jefferson pushing car sales. As a history person-via my former teacher status, I find things like that repugnant. But I am certain advertising people have done their homework and have found that this kind of commercial stimulates people's sense of patriotism. Oh, by the way, the car is Japanese.

  179. These days the sight of the flag makes me sad, as it reminds me of when we were a democracy and how we celebrated it. Now we are a plutocracy, a government rules by the richest people. They are slowly sending each economic level of us further into poverty and terrorizing the rest of the world. Ah, America, and its founding documents... I remember you fondly.

  180. This is great news! Although not, of course, for the Republican Party or Fox News.

    Younger people appear to be seeing past the empty symbols of this country and thinking more deeply about what it really means, or could mean. Very encouraging in my view.

  181. To become "disillusioned," especially upon realizing that our democracy has become an oligarchy, seem like a perfectly rational response.

  182. Declining patriotism among our young?! Yes! Is it their fault?! Absolutely not! Most Americans born after 1968, and certainly since 1978, have entirely different points of references, totally dissimilar to at least the baby boomers and the earlier part of generation X! The we are in it together attitude and patriotism fostered by our involvement in World War ll against the evil incarnation of the Nazis and Imperial Japanese, which the baby boomers learned about from their parents, uncles and aunts, those older, from the movies, and in the classroom, was replaced by Watergate, unpopular wars, such as Vietnam, and our conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq, which have become the younger folks reference points! Additionally, in their minds they tend to lump these conflicts, along with WWI , as indistinguishable wars because as time has passed, the earlier conflicts which encouraged patriotism, have been minimized in many curriculums! I know this because I teach history as a licensed Social Studies educator! Add to that, the fact that for our younger ones, finding something Made In The U.S.A., can be a struggle... Memory is a key in fostering patriotism, and until we are allowed to again emphasize those historical events, which allowed our unity, our young will be more imbued with globalization, and less of a sense of what historically, for earlier generations, it meant to be Americans! Nonetheless, for this Baby boomer, despite our problems, it will always be, G-d Bless America!!!

  183. Implicit in this article is the notion that patriotism is a *good* thing. Patriotism led to the senseless slaughter of hundreds of millions globally, and of perhaps a million or more in the United States.

    Patriotism has been used to promote all kinds of unsavory causes, including slavery, land theft, genocide, Christian privilege, as well as support for a government that favors wealthy people over everyone else.

  184. I can't say that I am "proud" to be an American. We do some very, very good things and we do some very, very bad things.

    On the other hand, being an American is a geographical accident of birth for which I am exceptionally pleased.

  185. "being an American is a geographical accident of birth ..."

    Not for everyone.

  186. It's strange that a lot of flag-waving "patriots" are much more reluctant to wave around the constitution (except perhaps the 2nd amendment).

  187. Young people are devoted to whatever Jon Stewart & popular culture spoon feeds them. They are loyal to their iPads, not reading (it's boring), maxed out Mastercards, instagram, their worthless colleges & degrees, their crippling student debt, their parents' back house, Netflix, & bad life decisions.

    No I don't see our youth rah-rahing over the American flag & baseball. Bill Maher tells them not to.

  188. Yes, it's that simple. Must be nice to have an entire generation figured out. Now that I've said my piece, I'll kindly remove myself from your yard.

  189. Like rah-rahing over baseball makes me a patriotic American? Like Fox news isn't spoon feeding? The flag is a symbol. If what it stands for is eroded, it stands for nothing.

  190. Who is Bill Maher? not everyone has cable, you know.

  191. the debate continues about American exceptionalism, but there seems to be wider agreement both about American imperfection and our ability to make things better over time. beyond the unfortunate rhetorical overkill we hear from time to time ("If you don't like it here, why don't you go back to ...?") there's a more common sentiment of "if we don't like what we have here we have both the ability and the responsibility to make it better." Don't claim to know how widespread that is elsehwere, but it seems to work pretty well here .

  192. Used to seethe flag only at military installations & post offices.

    Now half the country seems to have it, or a faded likeness, decorating their house, car, or garments.

    Familiarity breeding indifference?

    Abie Hoffman was once prosecuted for wearing what you encounter several times a day at the mall....

  193. In my lifetime (I'm 49) the two things I am most proud about America/being an American, are landing a man on the moon and electing an African American as President. I didn't contribute toward going to the moon as I was four at the time, but I did help out with the 2nd event.

  194. I hope against hope I will live to cheer the liftoff of Apollo 18.

  195. What does belief in democracy and equality have to do with the USA in 2014?

  196. There is a difference between patriotism and nationalism. The Republican/Tea Party have mistaken the two.

  197. I am thankful for the opportunity to live in this country. I love the land itself, the openness and warmth of many of the people, the opportunities to start a new business and so much more. My mother came from another country. It was very, very hard for her to adjust to life here, but she never expressed any desire to go back. Thank you U.S.A!

  198. studies have shown that the usa isn't at the of the list in many things americans think they are. two are opportunities and time it takes to start a new business.....

  199. I'm glad we in the US slowly are developing the kind of patriotism which is more about principles of egalitarianism, freedom, and cooperation with other nations than about symbols and domination of the world. There may be some beneficial connections between this healthy trend and the diminishing dominance of religion in our lives (although the current conservative SCOTUS members seem to want theocracy). Contrast that to extremists of all ilk who are metastasizing around the world and who are usually religion-motivated (e.g.: the "Caliphate").We are evolving in the right direction, but we have a long way to go. National integrity and security depend on this evolution.
    I am proud to be an American when I read of these trends.
    Happy 4th!

  200. I agree. God never drew border lines on the maps.

  201. He never told US to either, but that hasn't stopped us. Your comment is meaningless, since patriotism doesn't go hand in hand with religion. Not anymore, anyway.

  202. I am first generation American from a culturally mixed background. I have lived in various parts of this country, both large cities and small towns, and have seen the changing definition of what patriotism is. In some parts of the country, many Americans feel embarrassed that they would support and even stand next to a symbol of this country, as if it were a swastika. Other parts unquestionably swear and stand by this country, and festoon across their car a type of patriotism that might offend some (gun toter, stars and stripes, etc etc etc).

    I have noticed that for both sides, neither group questions the actions of their government if it belongs to each respective groups political affiliation. If not, then god forbid! You would think that Stalin or Hitler somehow hijacked an election!

    Both groups also have never truly seen other parts of the world, for if they did, perhaps they would be more appreciative of this country, and not afraid to question their own political kin (yes, both left and right wing nut jobs).

    I proudly wave my flag because of my own beliefs and opinions that neither side would agree - and to everyone else that does the same as I, I salute you - for you are the true Patriots, those who decide how to live their lives each day, and know that this country was not defined since 2008, or 9/11 - it was defined since 1776!

  203. Patriotism may be on the decline because it has been hijacked by the right wing ultra conservative movement who use this as a measuring stick to establish an individual's political stance, especially by the so called "tea party". Personally many of these individuals are phoney false patriots who wrap themselves in the flag, Uncle Sam etc as a way to cover up the fact they are outright phonies and bullies themselves. A true patriot is an individual who believes the American way of liberty and justice for all, not just a select few to attempt to subvert the constitution by handing the country to the rich or corporate American i.e. the Koch brothers etc. Justice encompasses rich, poor and middle class, white or black and any other ethnic group which is what true patriotism is about. It is not about flying a flag or standing up on a soap box and announcing to the world "I am patriotic" like some elected officials and tea party members would have you believe.

  204. I agree. Sadly, well reasoned criticism out of loyalty or patriotism is no longer regarded and valued as such, but immediately, and furiously, dismissed as "un-amrrican", and the one expressing dissent is villified as "traitor". Yet dissent is one if the most genuine expressions of loyalty. We have strayed very far in a very troubled and troublesome direction. And that is why we hear words like "you lie!" at a joint session of Congress during the President's State of the Union address, and have to endure the vilest epithets in our public discourse for many years now. In addition, the pervading disillusionment among the young as the result of outright falsehood leading this nation into utterly misbegotten wars, burdening debt, collapsing infrastructure, and the unraveling of our societal fabric, is the indictment of us, the preceding generation. The fact that the young generation values justice and equality may be the silver line in an otherwise grim and dark horizon. At least I hope this is so. This 4th of July, I think, is the appropriate occasion to reflect on which bad and unhelpful habits, assumptions, and prejudices I need to be independent from, for good (in both senses of the phrase).

  205. Don't forget the silly flag lapel pins.

  206. Love of country should be complicated emotion. No country is right all the time. No country is by definition destined for greatness. Love of country should be clear-eyed to allow continued commitment to addressing problems and working on solutions that benefit the people. I find it encouraging that our future might hold a little less flag-waving. Our national symbols and our national values have been abused in the past few decades.

  207. Its hard to be patriotic in a country that has shifted to "me" away from "us." The competitive, me-first attitude, the lack of compassion and actual disdain for others less fortunate, reduction of social programs, etc has eroded a sense of common good. U-S-A patriotism seems to exist for mostly political propaganda and sports.

  208. But lets not pin that "me me" on the millennials, okay? That came right out of the 50 and 60's. and it was perfected in the Regan 80's.

  209. Patriotism, as defined here, is limited to "symbols of American democracy" such as the flag and "values" such as "equality and opportunity". For the mainstream media, due to their strong allegiance to the wealthy, the definition of "patriotism" MUST be limited to symbols and vague values.

    Once you make that definition a little more specific and concrete, for instance, to include a sincere concern for the financial security of the country and its people, you exclude our wealthy class from the patriot list. Two decades ago, the wealthy commanded their politicians to enact trade deals which, it was understood, would eliminate millions of jobs in this country.

    While the country wallowed in a deep recession over the past several years - a recession which they caused - the 1% actually increased their use of tax evasion strategies. Actions like these are the opposite of patriotism.

    But in a country in which the wealthy desire the public to be nothing more than consumers and spectators of political and economic decision making, isolated and scornful of the weak and any notion suggesting that we should look out for each other, the concept of "patriotism" must be handled deftly.

    And the definition of "equality" and "opportunity" must be fine-tuned as well: these must be understood to be values that fluctuate (downward for most) much like the weather - and are certainly NOT brought about specific policies dictated by our wealthy to the politicians.

  210. and as stated in another article of these investors, hedge fund managers are buying up cheap rentals in bulk, foreclosures in bulk and renting. They are stealing the American Dream making homeownership unsustainable for all. They are stealing property.

    It is a con, drive the bubble and profit, collapse the bubble and make more money and profit from others suffering buy up cheap land/houses and drive up cost of homes and keep doing.
    They have stolen the average joes investment vehicle - their home.
    ugly American aptly applies here. Unpatriotic americans are the 1%.

  211. At 13, a period of widening a greater consciousness about the world around you, I witnessed 9/11 with my peers, and the flag in those coming months really did elicit 'the chills down my spine' effect. That being said, we are a generation that grew up through greater and greater disillusionment. We watched as the war in Afghanistan, which many of us felt was righteous at the beginning, turned into an endless quagmire that blurred right and wrong. An administration brought my friends who enlisted to Iraq, only to find that the reason we went only benefitted the administrations buddies in the military industrial complex or oil industry.
    We believed in the goodness in the society, that we would be afforded the same quality education at low cost that previous generations were afforded. Not so. Instead, we worked full-time jobs going full-time to affordable state schools to still be burden by unproportionate debt. We are a generation accused of being coddled and spoiled, yet we can't afford to buy over-inflated houses or pay down our student debt; and no I don't have a smart phone, and I drive a $4000 car. We came out one of the most educated and well traveled generations in history with over a decade of disillusionment under our belt, and with that I think we a little to wise to believe in jingoisms and simple symbols as hope for our future.

  212. A survey of American young people finds they are less devoted to symbols of the nation, like the flag. But they are supportive of ideals like democracy and equality.
    Finally!

  213. You mean running around waving the flag does not automatically make you a patriot!

  214. It's worth noting that the main author of the Port Huron Statement, Tom Hayden, was born in 1939, a member of the Silent Generation, if you will. I believe the other authors were all of an age close to his. The Statement was the founding document of SDS, and approved by many of that generation, who, as the 60s progressed, were not so silent and spearheaded much of the change that followed.

  215. Thomas Paine once wrote "The World is my country, all mankind are my brethren, and to do good is my religion."
    This is the understanding to which we should strive if we are to grow as a nation, but more importantly as citizens of this planet. As we evolve, the small becomes subsumed by the large. Thus, the tribe becomes less important than the village, the village less than the state, the state less than the country. And hopefully, the nation-state becomes absorbed by the universal, which for us is our planet. Millennials are on the right track to view human rights as natural for each person on this planet and not simply in the country in which they live.
    I'll give Samuel Johnson the last word on this issue. "Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel."

  216. As a baby boomer, and a history teacher at the community college level, I have seen up close and personal the eroding of national pride among the younger generation. I struggle to answer the question as to why they should vote, or why they should perform national service when what they see around them is cheating, greed, money politics and a dysfunctional government.
    I love this country; I fear the government. Once you can separate the two it becomes easier to answer their questions. We are not perfect, in fact I use Longfellow's "There was a Little Girl" ditty to explain to them that America has a long list of things we have gotten right, domestically and internationally and we should celebrate those accomplishments. But, we have also been horrid.
    What I would like to see on this Independence Day would be an honest attempt at open dialogue, a realization that we can not fix all things, a respect for divergent views, and politicians which puts their country above the fact that they hate the president. We have come a long way in our short history as a nation. We have a very long way to go.

  217. Why should we be surprise. Liberals and schools have done such a good job brainwashing young people that being a patriot was the same as being a jingoist.

  218. Yes, yes. those schools! how dare they educate and teach people to think. I mean, we'd be a LOT better off if we just did away with SCHOOLS entirely.

  219. Defining patriotism is a lot like interpreting the Bible.
    Unfortunately, there is no universal definition - they are both Rorschach's tests, and just as people tend to create God in their own image, patriotism can mean far different things to different people.

    In 2014 America, to be patriotic, we need to change some things. The preamble of the Constitution is outdated:

    "We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity . . . "

    It's no longer about "We the People".
    "We the people working together toward common goals and a great country for all is SO 18th century !

    We are now told that patriotism means believing that we are a nation of individuals who are in competition with each other to see who can acquire the most money - a nation built on selfishness and greed, and survival of the fittest.
    Cooperation has become synonymous with weakness and stupidity.
    Predatory business practices are our new inalienable right, and those involved in such are not criminals because we got rid of the laws. Financial predators are simply "smart businessmen.

    Anyone who lives by the old Preamble is likely just a moocher -
    And if you don't believe it, you are the one who is unpatriotic !

  220. The millennials are not less patriotic but they are less selfish and less greedy. That makes me feel better about what opportunity will be available in the future for the youngest members of my family. The rest of us must continue to practice tolerance until we get more responsible representation in Washington.

  221. I'm in the Silent Generation, and my patriotism (after Vietnam and Iraq) has always been tinged with irony.

    My children, 16 and 18, are like many of their peers in that the are not exactly patriotic, but they "like" patriotism, something they can click on without actually being involved.

  222. Dr. Samuel Johnson: "Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel." That's eighteenth-century cosmopolitan talk, and of course Thomas Paine and Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin, "patriots" all, would have understood what he meant. The nineteenth century was all nationalism talk, e.g., he (or she) who wishes to be at home in the world is really at home nowhere. If at least some of what you say about the younger generation is right, then we're in good shape: freedom, justice, equality are where one wants to live. (I was born in 1941, by the way, and from the '60's to today, not entirely "silent.") Insofar as the U.S. stands for freedom, justice, and equality, one can be a "patriot" with pride. Insofar as it doesn't (e.g., massive inequality and justice predominantly for those who can afford the law firm), "patriotism" means working locally to restore humane values.

  223. The older generations largely viewed America as a land of hope more than promise. The perceived opportunities available and comparisons to other countries were clear.

    Then came American-lead efforts at more universalism, the League of Nations, the United Nations, and economic and cultural globalization. In addition, our immigrant society matured, and people felt free, as Americans, to reclaim their varied ethnic roots all over the world.

    At the same time, Americans' material level of comfort increased dramatically, and a governmental social safety net was born, expanded, and went from being a policy option to being assumed. Younger generations could take for granted what previous generations struggled for.

    While each generation compares what is delivered to what is expected, the expectations have changed fundamentally. Previous generations largely viewed the American experiment in terms of freedoms to do things, freedom to speak, worship, start a business, gather together, etc. For the younger generations, the American experiment is more about freedom from things, from discrimination, inequality, failure, etc. Thus, when you question folks in a "patriotism" survey, you are, in a way, asking the generations somewhat different questions.

    I wish the survey had broken responses down between "citizens born elsewhere" and "citizens born here." My expectation is that the very diverse immigrant population would be more like the older generations.

  224. I reckon patriotism is the first refuge of a scoundrel. Today (the 4th) we are surrounded by nationalist creation myths as phony as those of religions. At 41, I think I'm too old to be a Millennial, but something struck me in this article. "We" don't trust other people. The reason isn't that we're self absorbed and glued to electronics, it's because we've learned not to trust people through years of experience. We're not angry at the ultimately meaningless colorful banner, we're angry at the previous generations who created the rotten country we live in. Being idealistic about democracy doesn't change the fact we live in an oligarchy. Enthusiasm is not enough.

  225. When you consider the scoundrels who call themselves patriots and and the evil they do in the name of patriotism, the whole thing has a disreputable and fascistic tone to it. I've considered "owning" it, claiming my own higher patriotism, but the maneuver of loving the idea of a nation and its symbols, even as I define them, just doesn't ring true. Is the state (or the "nation") my enemy or my friend? A little of both I suppose, and a lot of neither. Better to love individual people in specific circumstances than to proclaim love for abstractions and collectives.

  226. So, isn't patriotism expressed by wearing an American flag T-shirt, shorts or bumper sticker , or tying an American flag bandanna around your dog's neck? When I stood for days, weeks and years with groups of peace activists , protesting GW Bush's war in Iraq, I noticed the vitriol coming from our fellow freedom-loving " patriots " who showed their deep love of country with symbols. Or, should I say their love of a "republic ?"

  227. For a generation that no longer values the study of American History, this not surprising,unfortunately! We need to teach this Now if we are to survive as a country.

  228. Well, let's face it, I am sure younger people have come to the conclusion that whether it be government, politics and industry and these institutions behaviour in recent years, there aren't a lot of mentors out there now they can look up to for guidance. All you have to do is look at the comparatively small voter turnout in this age group. When looking to a somewhat uncertain future, I would submit overt patriotism is probably the least important thing on their mind.

  229. I lost my love of the flag when George H. W. Bush made it and the Pledge a rallying cry in his 1988 presidential campaign. I was disgusted watching him on TV going around to rallies and conspicuously bellowing out the Pledge to adoring audiences.

    Don't get me wrong, though. I still like it. I buy a new one every couple of years (only U.S.-made, sewn and embroidered). I put it out almost every morning. It really dresses up the front porch.

    I'm in my mid 40s.

  230. I felt exactly the same way. Hard to respect his last week of the campaign touring an American flag factory. Pablum.

  231. Spending '69-'70 in Viet Nam certainly disabused this soul of blind patriotism, flag waving and the whole shoot 'em up bang bang thing.

  232. There is hope in America. So there will be a promising spring after this present day bleak winter.

  233. Very nice, but do young people know how to properly engage in a democracy?
    Do they vote regularly? Do they sign petitions for potential elected officials? Do they correspond with their local electeds? Are there studies on this? Talk is cheap. As a society, we need to do a better job in convincing them that democracy requires attention and action. American Government studies don't end with the 12th grade regents!

  234. As a child, I recall my father (a Normandy veteran) referring disparagingly to John Wayne (a WW2 draft avoider) as a "shirtsleeve patriot". John Wayne often proclaimed his patriotism, lauded symbolic shows of supposed patriotism, and questioned the patriotism of others. I am glad we are making progress.