From the Ashes Comes the Rebirth of Patriotism

AEI Online, October 1, 2001.


The terrorist attacks of September 11 have inspired a greater outpouring of patriotism by the American people than have many previous wars, and numerous displays of the American flag symbolize that patriotism. The flag represents more than free speech; it reminds us of those who fought before us to preserve our freedom.

The connection between war and patriotism–or better yet, between war and the making of patriot–is evident, maybe even self-evident.

When I made that point in my recent book, Making Patriots, I was discussing the Athenians and the Spartans during the Peloponnesian War. But the point also served as backdrop to examine the making of American patriots–or making patriots of Americans. In myriad interviews, I’ve been asked if I thought a war was required to make us so.

The answer is no, not as long as we remember past wars, and use those memories to meet current challenges.


AEI Program on American Citizenship