My view of my own "Patriotism" has been quite the rollercoaster ride over my lifetime, figured to share a few of my thoughts with others that may be having the same internal debate. I grew up in a patriotic household, male members of my lineage have served in every military action in US history back to the civi war (cant verify Span-Am war though). I was the typical red, white, and blue teenager from middle america. I was heavily involved in high school sports, and I remember standing for the national anthem before games, and the welling up of pride that I would feel during it. I loved my country and firmly believed that we were the good guys, and that the US was the best country in the world, period. I enlisted in the army at age 18, and I sincerely wanted to be "the righteous hammer of god" for our country, laying waste to all the bad guys from other lands. But during my time some disturbing things happened. I began to see a lot of areas where we we're NOT the good guys. I learned of political corruption, I learned of our own government acting against the best interest of it's citizens right up to the point of performing deadly chemical tests on them without their knowlege. I learned that as a soldier, I was not a valued weapon, that I was merely a disposable implement given no more consideration than the average paper clip on a generals desk. I learned how corporations had grown out of control and were now running nearly everything with only profit as a motivating factor. These realizations led me to some conclusions that disturbed me. I was not a patriot, and I hated our leadership, we were not the good guys I had always been led to believe. Upon leaving the service, I remember going back to my high school to a ball game, and when the anthem was played, I only stood to avoid confrontation, I no longer felt pride, only hatred for what my once beloved country had become. I was ashamed of my country, and ashamed to a degree of myself for having served it. I've struggled with my own "non-patriotism" for more than a decade since then. And here is where I have to thank the "Survival Monkies". After reading much info and opinion on this site over the course of a half-year, I've finally been able to see things a little more clearly now. You see, I had always equated patriotism with following the leadership of this country, and therin lay the problem. The definition of "Patriot" had somehow been changed over time to mean "support the leaders" instead of "support the constitution and the ideals this country was founded upon". I had thought that because I felt the leadership was corrupt and horrible that I wasn't a patriot, where now I realize that neither the meaning of the concept "patriot" nor my view of it has really changed. But it's the leaders themselves who have lost the meaning. Now when I hear that same national anthem, it's not hatred I feel. It's mostly sadness for what it has become, but at the same time it's hopeful. Our founding principles were sound and good. They are principles that could allow us to become much more than we are, much more than we have been. Does this country have it's problems? Hell yes. Has it done things that were wrong and shameful, yes again. But we remain the planets last and best hope for freedom for all men and for elevation of the human race.. But we have a long, long way to go. I'm proud once again to have grown up here. I no longer see the times I live in as the end product of a nation building experiment gone wrong, I see myself living at the early stages of a nation building experiment with promise. And regardless the common definition of the word today, I can once again call myself a Patriot.