The New Patriotism

Americans honor their country in dramatically different ways. Why those differences can make America stronger

Christopher Morris / VII for TIME

Patriotism has always been the most abstract of American virtues--which may be why we fight so ferociously over the symbols that help us define it. Too often those symbols--flags, anthems, slogans--which are meant to unite us, end up dividing us.

To many people, the meaning of patriotism is simple: love of country. But love of a country that is dedicated to a proposition, not a king or a religion--a nation that is based on ideas, not blood--has always created a different kind of citizen. American patriotism expresses itself most truly in actions, not words. Our patriotism shapes our responsibilities as citizens,...

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