Title: Patriotism

Category: Speech

Author/Presenter: General David M. Shoup, USMC Commandant of the Marine Corps

Date: 4 July 1962

It is said that patriotism is the love of country. I think it is the love of the things about your country that you don’t want to see lost—that you want to see perpetuated—and you’re willing to sacrifice to ensure it.

Patriotism is not something you put on each morning like a clean shirt. Patriotism is not something you can buy at the super market. Patriotism is not something you can get in return for a monthly paycheck to a man in uniform. It is devotion to an ideal—a principle; a burning desire that the things that people think are best for their country and its people are protected from erosion—protected from any and everything which would tend to lessen in the mind of the individual the image he has of how things should be in his ideal country.

Patriotism is an abstract thing. You can’t see it, you can’t feel it, you can’t hear it—albeit at times you can see the action and hear the things that people do, who are imbued with patriotism.

In the armed forces we have one fundamental mission—to provide for the security of this nation. Everything else is included in this goal. Devotion to country—patriotism, if you will—is essential to our success.

The men and women in the armed forces are not so different from other Americans. The uniforms they wear merely signify what their job is and in which service they carry out their important duties. But soldier, sailor, airman or Marine, they are bound by a common promise and a common responsibility.

Patriotism is something from our hearts—a faith—a dedication.

We cannot confine patriotism to a single day, year, or to whenever it is convenient, any more than we can confine a belief in God to the occasion when one is trapped in a foxhole under fire, or a Sunday morning in church. If patriotism is faith—and I believe it is—then it is a faith based on love, the love of the things that we believe are best for the people of our country, and thus for the nation itself. It is a deep faith in what we are for, not a hatred for things we are against. American patriots need not hate nor fear anyone. Fear and hate are corrosive and carry the seeds for the destruction of the deep patriotism so necessary to ensure the future of America.

I am firmly convinced that the cornerstone of our Democracy are Americans who have pride in their country—true patriots.

We are not born with this sense of patriotism. This thing called patriotism is not just handed to us. We must know our history, we must participate in our country’s current affairs of concern—vote for leaders—foster education for more of our people—and stand beside our country as her defenders.

Let us all do these things, and there will be no lack of patriots in this great country.

Marine Corps University