By Chris Caraveo
Since the day the U.S. won its independence from Great Britain, Americans have pondered what ideals makes a true patriot. It may be setting off fireworks during the Fourth of July, buying American-made goods, paying taxes or serving in the armed forces.
It may be ridding a U.S. flag of profanity-laden graffiti, as was the case Thursday in Phoenix. According to multiple Facebook posts, an American flag painted onto a wall near 40th Street and Cactus Road was found with foul language against President Donald Trump and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
To its rescue, two Phoenix police officers and one of their sons revived the flag with supplies they purchased themselves.
Independence Day is Thursday, and Arizonans — especially in the Valley — may be preparing for a feast of hot dogs, burgers and beer before heading out to a nearby Spring Training ballpark to watch fireworks displays.
All for America.
As the holiday approaches, personal-finance site WalletHub recently released its report on 2019’s Most Patriotic States in America. The site compared the states across 13 key indicators of patriotism.
Arizona was ranked the 16th most patriotic state. The top states, per WalletHub, are New Hampshire, Wyoming, Vermont, Utah and Idaho. Taking the bottom five spots are Texas, West Virginia, California, New York and New Jersey.
The report considers 13 metrics including average number of military enlistees, share of adults who voted in the 2016 presidential election, and AmeriCorps volunteers per capita.
The metrics are housed under two categories: Military Engagement and Civic Engagement. Arizona is 13th and 14th, respectively, in those categories.
The Grand Canyon State’s top 20 ranking is strengthened by its average number of military enlistees (6th) and civics education requirement (tied-1st). Arizona also has the 16th most veterans per 1,000 citizens, 18th in AmericCorps volunteers per capita, and 22nd in volunteer hours per resident.
However, Arizona is in the bottom half in number of active-duty military personnel (26th) and number of Peace Corps volunteers per capita (28th).
Across WalletHub’s report, the share of adults who voted in the 2016 Presidential Election is the most-weighted metric in the report, with 22.5 points. Behind it is the average military enlistees per 1,000 civilians, at 12.5 points.
When asked why these two metrics have the most weight of the 13, WalletHub Analyst Jill Gonzalez said they considered those two to be the most important ones in demonstrating a state’s civic engagement, as well as military engagement, respectively.
In comparison, Republican states (average rank 23.67) were more likely to show national pride versus Democratic states (28.25).
“One of the reasons for this could be that civics education is a requirement for high school graduation in most red states,” Ms. Gonzalez said. “These states also tend to have a higher share of population in military reserves, a higher volunteer rate, and a larger number of AmeriCorps volunteers.”
Volunteering is also another big component of the report, with Ms. Gonzalez saying WalletHub considered volunteering to be a measure of each community’s civic engagement.
“This is why we took into account both the number of people who volunteer (for any cause), as well as the amount of time spent helping others,” she said. “It shows how much people are willing to do for the benefit of their peers.”
Do you remember the original 13 colonies? If not, they are New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, Georgia and the Carolinas.
The original 13 range in their patriotic rankings. With New Hampshire at the top. South Carolina is 8, Virginia 14, and South Carolina just outside the top 20. New York and New Jersey are at the bottom of the list.
While the metrics give insight into which states are more patriotic, they don’t give the full picture.
Sean Michael Laurent, Ph.D., an assistant professor in psychology at the University of Illinois, said the thought of patriotism is complex and definitions of patriotism vary depending the person.
“Probably, most citizens of the U.S. would call themselves patriots,” he said. “However, given the current political climate, many people would also accuse people from the ‘other’ side of the ideological spectrum of failing in their patriotism.
“Why?” he continued. “Because standing up for and defending your country can mean different things to different people.”
Aside from the statistics, Mr. Laurent poses a number of questions (below) that citizens might consider and compare with the next person they talk with.
David Konstan, professor emeritus at Brown University, said inspiring one’s country to live up to the highest ideals of humanity is patriotism, as opposed to “My country right or wrong,” which he attributes to servility.
While Mr. Konstan said a class in civics may be beneficial to school-goers, it could also include bias depending on the country.
“Any such course must have a critical perspective: we don’t want to inculcate mindless obedience to the status quo,” he stated. “What’s more, the world is changing, and what seems right to some may not seem so to others.
“The issues are delicate, I recognize, but they need to be faced honestly and critically. I trust a citizen body that thinks for itself.”
What is a patriot to you? Share your thoughts on the five questions below by contacting reporter Chris Caraveo at 623-876-2531 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
What is a patriot?
1. Is this a person who supports the President, Republican or Democratic, no matter who he or she is?
2. Does being a patriot mean standing up for the ideals and values of one’s government? If so, which ideals, which values?
3. Is it abiding by and supporting rules of law, even those laws one does not agree with?
4. Is patriotism supporting your government, no matter what? Or is it raising your voice in protest when you disagree?
5. One might argue that it is about one’s willingness to lay down one’s life for one’s country, if needed. But is this true for all causes the government might deem worthy and for any leader who calls the people to action, or only for those causes and leaders with whom one agrees?