Four years ago I left the emerald isle of Northern Ireland and moved to grand America. I remember feeling intimidated not knowing what to expect, I was excited for new opportunities but nervous for big changes ahead. Once I got over what I thought to be extremely hot weather in comparison to our average 50°F weather at home, I fell in love. People here are so welcoming, the scenery is stunning and there’s an endless number of new experiences to enjoy. Only a couple of weeks after my arrival I had the pleasure of experiencing Independence Day celebrations! While watching the raising of the majestic American flag and listening to people belt out the national anthem I remember being in awe of their reverence, respect and pride for their country.
When people ask me what I like most about America I always tell them that I love how patriotic people are. I come from a country that is starkly divided by political and religious affiliations. Whichever flag you choose to fly outside of your house in Northern Ireland makes a big statement and could attract negative attention. I’m not used to so many people being united by the love of their country: this is what makes America so beautiful to me. I know that some Americans may contend over issues like gun control or other aspects of the country, but the moment they hear a bad word being said about America, you’d better take it back!
Millennials, however, are gaining the reputation for being the least engaged and patriotic generation in comparison to previous generations. I wonder if this is really the case or are they just patriotic in a different way? The New York Times say that young citizens aren’t as invested in “Old Glory but express higher support for classic American ideals like equality and opportunity.” Millennials are a diverse generation that express themselves in unique ways and like to feel original. Maybe Millennials’ way of expressing their patriotism is new in comparison to former generations. Pew found that 55% of Millennials are optimistic and think that the best days are ahead for America. This optimism and positivity for America’s future reflects the original ideas behind “The American Dream.”
The American National Election Study (A.N.E.S) found only 58% of Millennials say they love their country in comparison to 81% of the Silent Generation (69 to 86 years old in 2014), suggesting that Millennials aren’t very patriotic. But Pew found that the majority of Millennials (70%) agreed with the statement “I am very patriotic,” in comparison to Gen Xers (86%), Boomers (91%) and Silents (90%). Even though Millennials fall short against their predecessors, the majority of the generation see themselves as being patriotic.
MTV’s president Stephen Friedman said that Millennials “are redefining patriotism as an active commitment, rather than an unquestioned obligation.” This falls in line with characteristics of Millennials who like to make their own decisions and not commit to something because they feel obligated. Whether Millennials are redefining American patriotism or not, I encourage them to continue their optimistic view of America, appreciate the beautiful country they live in and stand up for the freedoms they enjoy.
Post by Camilla