Recently I wrote a letter to the Naples Daily News challenging readers to choose which definition of “patriotism” they identify with. I would hope and pray that most citizens would choose the definition of patriotism that would best promote a God honoring spirit in our nation once again.
John Witherspoon, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, and educational father of many of the Founding Fathers, Congressman, Senators, Governors, and Supreme Court Justices taught three basic traits of an American patriot:
“That he is the best friend of American Liberty who is the most sincere and active in promoting true and undefiled religion, and who sets himself with the greatest firmness to bear down profanity and immorality of every kind. Whoever is an avowed enemy of God, I scruple not to call him an enemy to his country.”
Witherspoon is saying, first, an American patriot is to be a sincere promoter of “true and undefiled religion,” second, to “bear down profanity and immorality” and third, who ever was “an avowed enemy of God” was “an enemy to his country.”
Thomas Hughes, Naples
“Patriotism” is a word seldom heard in our culture anymore. Unfortunately, our love for America has changed over the years, which has even affected its definition.
Noah Webster’s “An American Dictionary of the English Language” of 1828 defines patriotism as “love of one’s country; the passion which aims to serve one’s country, either in defending from invasion, or protecting its rights and maintaining its laws and institutions in vigor and purity. Patriotism is the characteristic of a good citizen, the noblest passion that animates a man in the character of a citizen.”
Merriam Webster’s “Collegiate Dictionary” of 2004 defines patriotism as simply, “love for or devotion to ones country.”
Merriam Webster’s “love of country” is merely an emotional feeling, whereas Noah Webster’s “love of country” calls the patriot to action in defending our country, maintaining laws and preserving religion and morality in the public arena and private life. A true patriot puts aside his personal and partisan desires for the best interest of his country.
In his farewell address of 1796, President George Washington gave his views on patriotism. He stated, “Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness — these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens.”
Washington says “religion and morality” (America’s foundations) are indispensable supports and you would not be considered a patriot if you tried to undermine or overthrow the great pillars. It was the duty of citizens to protect these supports.
Which definition of patriotism do you align yourself with?Blessings, Tom Hughes – President
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