'What Unites Us': What does it mean to be a true patriot?

'What Unites Us': What does it mean to be a true patriot?

What does it mean to be patriotic? 

In our nation's desperate search for a "better" and more "together" country, I thought Dan Rather's 'What Unites Us: Reflections on Patriotism' was an important reminder at how we all may want to give thought to our interpretation of the term. 

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If we just want to look at the definition... this is what you'll find. 

-Patriotism: the quality of being patriotic; vigorous support for one's country.

*Note: Patriotism is not to be confused with Nationalism: an extreme form of patriotism, especially marked by a feeling of superiority over other countries or people. 

Dan Rather’s 'What Unites Us' includes a collection of accounts which discuss some of the major pillars of patriotism, such as Freedom, Community, Exploration, Responsibility, and Character. (Some of my favorite sub-topics were The Press, Empathy, Books, Service, and Audacity.)

Rather discusses his perspective of how our country has developed through nearly 60 years of reporting (from the Civil Rights Era to his departure from CBS). His time and experience with people from all walks of life are enough to simply contemplate. 

For many, there is a false idea that patriotism is a black and white set of characteristics or beliefswhen in reality, it is inherently unique. This type of pride is different for every person, and it is what makes our nation so wonderful.

For myself, I know I stand strong in my love for my country, I am immensely grateful for our military men and women, and I am exceptionally inspired by the people (from all corners of the world) who occupy our 50 states. 


The question “are you a patriot?” may feel like an attack… but I assure you, it is not. Instead, this should serve as an opportunity for you to tell your own love story for our country and what you personally do to make the United States the best it can be. 

So here are a few questions I want you to think on… (there is no answer key, but I ask you to dig deep on these). 

  • Do you believe America is a place where all men and women are to be treated equally?
  • Do you believe that it is your duty to serve our nation in any capacity you can, whether that be military service or community volunteering? 
  • Do you believe that no constitutional right weighs heavier than another… such as gun rights or the freedom of the press?
  • Do you believe it is important to have the most highly educated citizens we can possibly have? 
  • Do you believe Americans should be able to fight for laws/policies they believe in, even if it doesn’t align with your views? 
  • Do you believe the men and women who run our government should be honest and transparent with the American people? 
  • Do you believe in creating a positive future for the generations of Americans to come? 

The answers to these questions are deeply personal and often multi-faceted, but it is a place to start. 

Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments. 

God Bless America and the people who call this land home. 

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