The July 24, 2014 edition of the Bristol Phoenix contained a letter entitled “Partying is not Patriotism.” I found the content to be illogical and a bit offensive.
While I am respectful of Mr. Brown’s right to an opinion and appreciative of his prowess in expressing it, I am compelled to refute what, to me, read as condescending platitudes and unsolicited verbal chastisement.
In his letter, Mr. Brown “educates” us in an enumerated fashion on “Patriotism” and what it is not. He tells us it is “not flags..bunting..and pavement stripes.” He tells us our nickname as America’s Most Patriotic Town “…denigrates the patriotism of every other community” and that it is not “a contest where one community wins and all others lose.”
This was extremely interesting as I was unaware that the essence of patriotism had a definitive meaning. Shame on me as I thought it was a state of mind personal to one’s feeling and experience in the United States and/or the nation with which one most closely associates oneself. Having had the opportunity to travel and live in various areas of the country and beyond, I’ve often found patriotism to be the understanding and advancement of the ideals which make our country admired as well as “in admiration” of others.
On a micro-level, Mr. Brown attacks Bristol and accuses it of “shameless self-promotion,” and reminds us again that there is no competition for patriotism. I believe his thought process fails to assimilate form and substance. The manner in which we express our pride in Bristol, and/or the United States is merely the form and completely up to the individual, not to be dictated (beyond appropriate laws and regulations) by anyone … not even Mr. Brown. What we paint, hang or write to symbolize our feeling is merely the form of expression.
The substance of what Bristolians feel for their town can be cumulative or individual to each resident. As there is no competition, we can call ourselves whatever we desire — hence the nickname (not the title) “America’s Most Patriotic Town.” Personally, the form, substance, energy and effort with which we commemorate America’s independence does make us the most patriotic – a moniker not only self-imposed but also referenced in national media. Other communities can advocate their patriotism in any manner they desire — a benefit of the essence of July 4th — but no one can or should dictate how Bristol feels about itself.
In his conclusion, Mr. Brown tells us “Bristol should stick to facts — commemorating America’s Independence Day is what you do better than anyone else.” Herein lies my greatest confusion. If we commemorate July 4th “better than anyone else,” might one say we are “most patriotic?”
Robert E. Pirri