What Is Patriotism? Inspiring Acts in History & Life

, Staff Writer
Updated April 22, 2021
shaking hand of veteran patriotic
    shaking hand of veteran patriotic
    Ariel Skelley / DigitalVision / Getty
    Used under Getty Images license

Patriotism is a complex concept that can be difficult to clearly define. Develop a better understanding of what is patriotism by reviewing some inspiring examples of patriotic acts.

Understanding Patriotism

Patriotism is a sense of pride, admiration and love a person has for his or her country. It is not about allegiance to a political party or politician, but to the country as a whole. Patriotism is a form of constructive national pride (but is not the same as nationalism). Patriotism is an emotion that people feel towards their country, but it can also lead to patriotic actions.

Real-World Examples of Patriotism

There are many examples of behavior that can be motivated by patriotism. It's important to note, though, that not everyone who does these things is motivated by a sense of patriotism.

  • serving in your country's Armed Forces
  • displaying your country's flag on your home or business (per guidelines)
  • exercising your right to vote as a citizen of your country
  • running for public office to serve your community, state or country
  • honoring your country with its national anthem
  • working collaboratively with other citizens and leaders for the advancement and betterment of society
  • honoring soldiers and military families for their sacrifice and service
  • respecting and honoring those who sacrifice everything in service of the country or its people
  • volunteering with veterans' service groups, such as United Services Organizations (USO) to help meet the needs and improve the lives of veterans
  • valuing the full scope of diversity represented by all of the people that make up your country
  • adhering to the letter and spirit of your country's Constitution
  • helping others at risk to yourself, such as first responders rushing to rescue people from the World Trade Center on 9/11
  • exercising bravery, such as the passengers on the United 93 flight on 9/11 who diverted the plane away from the terrorists' intended target
  • becoming knowledgeable about your country's history and form of government
  • taking pride in your country's strengths and accomplishments
  • being respectful of other countries and cultures
  • setting a positive example through your words and deeds to positively portray what it means to be a citizen of your country
  • participating in national celebrations, such as Independence Day parades and fireworks displays or Memorial Day events
  • striving always to contribute to the continual formation of an even more perfect union

Examples of Patriotism Acts in U.S. History

Many actions have occurred throughout United States (U.S.) history that are remembered as outstanding examples of patriotism.

  • the Founding Fathers' decision to include checks and balances in the U.S. Constitution, so no one person can subvert the country for their own interests
  • Woodrow Wilson's 1918 speech before Congress in which he urged the legislators to grant women the right to vote
  • homemakers choosing to go to work in factories during World War II to ensure the country's needs for goods and services were met
  • Bob Hope's 50+ year commitment to providing on-base entertainment to soldiers stationed overseas through his USO shows
  • Gerald Ford's willingness to assume the role of vice president in 1973 after Spiro Agnew resigned, then become president a year later after Richard Nixon resigned
  • secret service agent Tim McCarthy's bravery in putting his body between President Ronald Reagan and a bullet fired by would-be assassin John Hinckley in 1981
  • political candidates encouraging voters to support their former opponents after losing a primary election

Patriotism and Democracy

Keep your patriotic education going by exploring some patriotic words to express your own patriotism. Patriotism goes hand-in-hand with democracy. Now that you have a good idea of what patriotism is, it's the perfect time to learn more about democracy. Start by perusing examples of countries with democracies. Of course, democracy isn't the same in every country with this form of government. Strengthen your knowledge base by learning about different types of democracy.