Millions of Americans will attend parades, fireworks and other Independence Day events on Tuesday, celebrating the courage of the nation’s 18th century patriots who fought for independence from Great Britain and what they considered an unjust government. Those events also will honor the military and those who sacrificed in other conflicts that helped preserve the nation’s freedom over its 247-year history.
That is only one version of a “patriot.” Today, the word and its variants have morphed beyond the original meaning. It has become infused in political rhetoric and school curriculums, with varying definitions, while being appropriated by white nationalist groups. Trying to define what a patriot is depends on who is being asked.