The headline reads "Japan Surrenders". The local newspaper displays in big bold letters that Japan has indeed surrendered and American troops will soon be coming home. The crowds of people have gathered on the street, in meeting halls and homes across the nation to proudly display their true patriotism to everyone. There was no hesitation, no waiting for their neighbor to hang a flag first. The people gathered are expressing their feelings for the greatest country in  the world, the United States of America.

It's not an accident that the voice of patriotism is loud and continued long after World War II ended.  The families of those fighting and dying in a land far away were just as involved in the war efforts as the brave men  and women fighting from the trenches on a bloody beach half way around the world. The war effort in the states was substantial and crucial to the ultimate success in ending the war. Patriotism blossomed and continued to grow despite the unimaginable loss of life overseas.  Why did people choose to wave the American flag and sing the praises of a nation at war? It was their duty and obligation to uphold the strengths and beliefs of their country and to assist the efforts of the war in any way they could. People in the 1940's were not being forced to be patriotic, they weren't intimidated or belittled into waving a flag or announcing they were a citizen of the USA. The American flag was willingly and reverently displayed for all to see.  They would show their patriotism everyday of the year.  So what happened?

Over the past 60 years America, like most of the free world has went through a barrage of changes.  American soldiers returning from the war seen that their wives were now part of the work force and some didn't want to give that up. Women enjoyed, and rightfully so, the income from working and the freedom it bestowed upon them.  Men were still considered the "head of the house" but now women were experiencing a new found freedom that until the war, was primarily given to men, and they liked it! Women were able to make their own money, buy what they wanted and not have to ask their husbands for money or permission to spend it. Increased opportunities and social interactions empowered women and it wasnt long before the divorce rate started to rise.  With all the changes to society, new technology and a faster lifestyle, it was only a matter of time before patriotism went by the wayside.

September 11,2001, a date that no one will forget but that some only remember on certain occasions.  Flag sales skyrocketed the day after 911 and people genuinely appeared outraged at the unmitigated assault on the USA. People cried out for justice and American leaders obliged by attempting to locate the mastermind behind the attacks. After failing to locate Osama Bin Laden in a timely manner, the "powers that be" went after Saddam Hussein and his WMD (weapons of mass destructions). When Hussein was eventually caught he was bantered about like a trophy at a spelling bee. Americans cheered the news reel footage and waved their flags in triumph.  No "WMD" were ever found and Bin Laden would remain in hiding and on the run for a few more years.  Patriotism waned, except during the carefully staged 911 anniversary events and by those that  had lost loved ones in the attacks.  In fact, thousands of US citizens blamed American political leaders for the tragic events of 911 and some misguided souls actually believed that the buildings in New York were brought down by explosives placed their by fellow Americans!

What happened to patriotism in America? When did showing patriotism for the country you live in become just a special event only demonstrated on specific days? It seems that a growing segment of the United States population are more concerned with their own selfish needs than that of their country.  We are forced to have two income households, if we are lucky and we depend on foreign oil to keep our new cars running and homes heated.  Immediate gratification is expected and demanded from fast food to internet service. Children sit in front of computers and so-called smart phones like zombies, mindlessly texting, tweeting and playing video games.  The fast paced lifestyle of the average American family continues to increase with no end in sight. Flag waving has become, for many just a scheduled event that they try to fit into an already overcrowded schedule. I guess people are just too busy to waste much time on inconsequential things such as patriotism.

Unbridaled Patriotism
Credit: photo courtesy of the Decatur Herald & Review