Patriotism in the 21st Century

What is affirmed or disaffirmed when we identify something as patriotic? How we conceptualize American patriotism today has been distorted by political extremes for political ends. Since January 6th it has become very clear that it is not knowledge that our society lacks – we all saw what happened. What is clear, however, is that we lack the courage to confront, to process and understand, and to accept what we know to be true: Patriotism requires historical, cultural, and philosophical contexts to begin to understand its ebbs and flows; it is a nuanced and complex space that has been the best and worst of all of us. It is aspirational and illustrates our relationship between what we choose to believe about our nation and who we choose to be. Authenticity within patriotism belongs in the complex story of us; all of us and not just the few.

On this day, I honor SFC Alwyn C. Cashe and I remember SSG LaDavid Johnson who both lost on the field of battle but should not be lost from our memories. That the descendants of once enslaved people in America can resolve to serve this country is a testament to their faith in the highest aspirations of this nation’s values and principles. Thank you to all who are lost to us in service to this nation and I especially thank all of the descendants of formerly enslaved people like me who served and gave their all. You believed in the highest aspirations of us – this nation – and I honor each of you.

Thank you

Published by: Bryon L. Garner

A veteran of the U.S. Navy, Bryon L. Garner earned his Master of Liberal Arts from Johns Hopkins University and is currently pursuing his PhD in Interdisciplinary Studies at the Union Institute & University. A 2020 Ril M. Beatty Fellowship recipient, Bryon has presented and written about intersectionality, masculinity and patriotic identity and is a contributing writer for Black & Magazine. Bryon is an honored awardee at the 2020 Association of Graduate Liberal Studies Program Annual Conference, where he presented, “Her Brave Black Soldiers: Black Veterans, Patriotism, and the Soldier-Athlete Archetype.” Bryon was the subject of a Christian Science Monitor article “On Independence Day, Black Americans see hope of a larger patriotism”

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