July 17 – I don’t think any other nation uses the word ‘patriotism’ or attaches as much meaning to the term as Americans do. It’s a concept that their country is firmly founded on. To really get a grasp of how much Americans love their country, you have to emerge yourself in their culture. To an outsider (like Arabs), this patriotism can come off as arrogant or unjustifiable. The American government commits countless heinous acts, why would their citizens feel proud?
But it’s not that cut and dry, and I think this is where a lot of East vs. West division takes place. The citizens’ love for their nation is so deeply rooted in the history and traditions of the United States, it seems illogical to expect them to decry and denounce their country because of certain unfavorable policies. Does it not happen in other countries? Are we not all guilty of backing our governments choice even if we don’t necessarily agree with it, but to defend it?
Today I attended the US Marine Corps Parade, an event that is held every year during the summer. It consisted of a marching band and silent drill exercise. This event has been going on for decades, and it’s done to show support for the Marine Corps.
It’s at these events that you really feel the patriotism Americans have. I think that maybe, as Arabs, we tend to see American soldiers as these bloodthirsty creatures bent on destroying our countries. I’m not saying they’re all innocent, but the majority are just regular men and women serving their country because they love it. It reminds me of the Tennyson poem;Theirs not to reason why, theirs but to do or die.
The reason I bring this up is because, at the end of the parade, we were asked to stand in a moment of silence for those who passed away in service to the country. I did stand, but it felt really weird. Here I was, a girl with a headscarf standing in a sea of Americans, giving a moment of silence to American soldiers, some of whom were killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, fighting us in the name of their country. Treacherous? Duplicitous? Maybe some people would call me that. I can’t deny I didn’t feel some of it myself. But when I go back and think on it, it doesn’t feel wrong.