What is an American patriot?


Diamond Member
Jul 11, 2004
Posted: July 8, 2006
1:00 a.m. Eastern
Pat Boone

© 2006 WorldNetDaily.com

My dictionary defines patriotism as "love of country and devotion to its welfare." A patriot is "one who loves his (or her) country and zealously supports its interests."

I agree with that definition.

However, I think too many of us confuse patriots with heroes. We think they are one and the same, but I beg to differ.

When I think of heroes, I think of Nathan Hale, who regretted he had "but one life to give for his country." I think of Adm. Farragut, I believe it was, who said, "Damn the torpedoes! Full speed ahead!"

I think of George Washington praying at Valley Forge, and I hear Patrick Henry exclaiming, "Give me liberty, or give me death!"

When I think of heroes, I think of Robert E. Lee, U. S. Grant, Davy Crockett, Douglas MacArthur, Andrew Jackson, Adm. Nimitz, Stormin' Norman Schwarzkopf, Colin Powell, Colin P. Kelly and the thousands of boys at Iwo Jima. Lenny Skutnik – I think I remember his name – surely comes to mind – the citizen who jumped in the icy Potomac to help rescue drowning passengers who otherwise would not have survived that Air Florida crash in Washington, D.C. I think of Ollie North, and even athletes like Tommy Moe and Nancy Kerrigan in the Olympics, Rafer Johnson and George Foreman, who raised American flags instead of clenched fists.

But these are heroes, not just patriots. Men and women who rose to challenges, met crisis and physical danger, faced death and defeat – and won! They saved lives, conquered armies, dared mightily – stared death in the face – and became heroes.

I think the true American patriot is something different. Oh, some American patriots may be public heroes, too – but I truly believe there is an American patriot who will never make headlines, be singled out for any award, or even be noticed by anybody but close family and friends. He or she will live a long productive, quiet, life – and be buried with very little fanfare.

But this person is a true American patriot.

He's an accountant who supports his family, takes them with him to church or synagogue, pays every nickel of his taxes – and advises his clients to do the same.

She's a homemaker – a wife and mother – who not only raises and trains and nourishes her kids, but also is active in the PTA and Brownies and Cub Scouts and the Ladies Auxiliary.

He's a gas station attendant who walks the precincts, getting out the vote – for city council members, not just presidents and governors. She's a high-school civics teacher who loves her subject and her students, and (for pitiful pay) actually awakens in some of them a sense of pride in America, and a sense of personal responsibility!

He's a local preacher, not a nationally known TV evangelist, but a gentle, loving man who really is a Good Samaritan and somehow inspires folks in his little congregation to reach out to the hurting and needy around them.

She's a volunteer – involved in a thousand worthy enterprises, political and social and humanitarian and spiritual – who gives and gives and gives some more, never expecting anything in return personally, just the satisfaction of having made a difference.

He's a cop. He walks a beat and wears that badge, and he believes in those rules that hold a society together. He obeys and defends and preserves the law. Oh, he can be a little tough and cynical sometimes, because he sees so much of the worst of us – but he's risking his life every day, trying to give each of us a chance at the best in us.

These – and so many others – are my idea of the American patriot. They're quiet, hardworking, honest, sharing, neighborly people. They vote, go to Sunday school, clog the freeways and subways, work two or three jobs and still volunteer for worthy causes, write their congressmen, buy American if they can, pray for their president (even if they didn't vote for him), and sing "The Star Spangled Banner" at public functions with a lump in their throats and a tear in their eyes.

The rest of the world still envies America. And it's not because of our heroes – they have their own – it's because of the millions and millions of American patriots and what they've accomplished together. It's because of the American spirit – that contagious, colorblind, multi-ethnic and multi-cultural mysterious and dynamic "CAN DO" force that ties us together, that unites us into a family nearing 300 million people – but that also influences individual behavior, even when nobody's looking.

Yes, that force, that spirit, has made us still the envy and role model of the whole world. But you can't buy it wholesale or in quantity. It comes in individual packages – and it's exhibited in lifelong, often anonymous, commitment – and each package I call an American patriot.

I believe this story is true and share it with you by way of example. A very wealthy man was dying in my hometown of Nashville, Tenn. The few members of his family gathered close to be there in his last moments and hopefully to be remembered substantially in the will. When he died, a small but luxurious funeral procession was put together befitting the economic status of the deceased. But when the funeral cortege, the long black limousines following the hearse, arrived at the only entrance of the Nashville cemetery – they couldn't enter! There was a steady procession of people of all ages, many on foot, some in much more ordinary vehicles, in a far larger crowd of mourners, entering the cemetery at just that time, and they were blocking the entrance completely.

The youngest son of the deceased wealthy man got out of his car and stomped up to the state trooper who was directing traffic. "What's the hold up here? We have one of the wealthiest and most influential men in this part of the country in our hearse, and we're being held up for a long time. What is this procession, and who are they coming to bury anyway?"

The state trooper looked at the young man with a rather icy and almost pitying countenance. He said, "Son, I'm sorry you and your limousines are being held up this way. This crowd will be by in just a few minutes, and then I'll let you in. Who are they burying? Somebody I'm sure you never head of – she was a small woman, a crossing guard at a big elementary school here. She stood directing traffic, like I am right now, and helped thousands of kids get safely across the street to their classes and safely home after school. All these people are the grateful parents and relatives, teachers and friends, and many of them the kids themselves who are now grown up, coming to pay their last respects."

He paused, then added, "It looks like more people knew her, and hated to see her go, than the folks in your limousines."

That little nameless lady, that elementary-school crossing guard, is my idea of a true American patriot. She's the very kind of person, a hero in her own way, who makes America unique in human history. If you agree with my definition, look in the mirror – you may see another one. And if so, God bless you.
The Patriot's Handbook: A Citizenship Primer for a New Generation of Americans"
Pat Boone, descendent of the legendary pioneer Daniel Boone, has been a top-selling recording artist, the star of his own hit TV series, a movie star, a Broadway headliner, and a best-selling author in a career that has spanned half a century. During the classic rock & roll era of the 1950s, he sold more records than any artist except Elvis Presley. To learn more about Pat, please visit his website.
Nice recognition of the contributions ordinary Americans make every day to the society and country that we are fortunate enough to live in. I wonder if Pat Boone would have been able to write such an article if he had opted to remain a part of the Hollywood glitz in his heyday instead of turning his back on the movie fame that could have been his. He was one of the up-and-coming young male stars in his day and was laughed at and scorned when he let go of the golden ring to travel in another direction.

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