What it Means to Be a Patriot

(United Reader) – When you look up the word “patriot,” you’ll find that it’s simply defined as “one who loves and supports his or her country.” However, throughout history the word has taken on several meanings. So, let’s take a deeper look into the word “patriot.”


The term originates from the Greek word “patrios,” which translates to “of one’s father.” Originally free of the good versus bad judgement, the word was used in combination with “good” to show that a regime was in alignment with a speaker. Originally, it was used to make sure that everyone was clear on the positions they held. However, the word would go through some changes, effectively shifting the way we use it.

Undergoing Change

The modifier word was eventually dropped when “patriot” came into use in England. Instead, it described someone who supported the monarchy. This was the first time it labeled someone who supported their existing government.

However, the colonists in America would come to find a different meaning to the word; they believed it described someone on the side of the revolutionaries. In this case, patriotism is identified with being separate from government, sometimes even resisting it. Thomas Jefferson expressed this idea in a letter to William Stephens Smith, stating that “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.”

A Problem Arises

The word “liberty” changed the way we perceive what it means to be a patriot. Once the word became associated with liberty, it came to be defined as fighting for something you support. On the other side, if you disagree, you’re not a patriot. The word has become a way to describe, often also self-label, right-wing groups.

President Trump called his supporters patriots, and many proudly took the name on. They believed in this label both when they supported the government and when they didn’t. Of course, this goes against the modern-day definition.

Final Notes

One doesn’t necessarily have to support their government in order to love their country. For example, people join the military to fight for their country and its ideals, but they may not necessarily agree with everything its government does. For example, Pat Tillman was an atheist who was also anti-war and anti-authoritarian, but he still traded in a football jersey for a service uniform. Was he not a patriot? After all, he did die for his country.

Patriotism extends far beyond politics; it simply means you love your country and support it. Not all Americans are proud of the way things are, but they still love their country. This, if nothing else, should be an example of pure patriotism regardless of any beliefs and political affiliations. Patriotism can unite us; even if we disagree, we can still love our country together and want to see it succeed.

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