Millennials Are Patriotic Too
The 4th of July has come and gone. It is around this time that we reflect on the state of our nation and our patriotism as Americans. Yet, in recent years there has been a rising trend in questioning how “proud” younger generations really are.
This year specifically, headlines focused on the record low of 47% of citizens who were not “extremely proud” to be American as found by a Gallup poll. A closer look at the data, which narrows the results by subgroup, shows that adults age 18-29 have the lowest percentage of those who are “extremely proud” with an all time low of 33%.
Being in this age category myself, I wondered why this trend exists. Social media reactions to this poll result overwhelmingly concluded that Millennials were simply “unpatriotic.” Yet, in my view, patriotism is not just claiming to be proud of one’s country. Instead, true patriotism includes embodying the founding principles of a nation.
This country was founded with the importance of education. The Puritans, in starting the Massachusetts Bay Colony instituted the Deluder Satan Act, requiring towns to have a schoolmaster to teach the local children. Today, Millennials are far better educated than any past generation. And now education opportunities are being expanded to include everyone - regardless of gender and race. More women now than ever before attend college in America. A Pew Research study reveals that Millenial women are 4 times as likely to attend college as their grandmothers. Today, education is a priority.
This country was founded on the principle of “All Men are Created Equal” and religious tolerance. Thomas Jefferson himself wrote in his autobiography that America would be a place for “the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and Mahometan, the Hindoo, and Infidel of every denomination.” There is no generation more committed to upholding the ideals of equality and diversity- whether it be participating in the Women’s March or fighting for LGBTQ rights.
This country was founded on the ideals of freedom. In celebrating the 4th of July, we commemorate the signing of the Declaration of Independence, the document that signified that the American colonies were free from Britain's control.
This same pioneer attitude encompasses the new generation. In pursuit of a free democracy, Millennials question government. As explained by Medium, “If those who we elect, in good faith to uphold the Constitution, choose to bend words and phrases into shapes re-framing the conversation to the advantage of their own interests, then they are no longer debating issues. Instead, they are playing power games.” It continues, “Millennials are, perhaps, demonstrating insight by hesitating to swear unquestioning allegiance to a system of government that appears either unable or unwilling to effectively call out this form of gaslighting.” Raising concern about government proceedings is not “unpatriotic,” but rather exemplifies a deep dedication to pursuing freedom.
We are facing different battles, but the spirit of the fight is the same. We are committed to education. We are dedicated to diversity. And we are prepared to work for our freedom. What could be more patriotic? What could be more American?