It was a hot summer day at Harper’s Ferry National Historical Park. Rangers gave talks about abolitionist John Brown’s ill-fated 1859 raid on the U.S. armory – one of the chain of events leading to the U.S. Civil War two years later. Volunteers enacted Union and Confederate recruitment. Our visitor, a Ukrainian historian, donned a Union uniform and “enlisted.” This, he remarked approvingly, was “patriotic education.”
“Patriotism,” derived from Latin “patria” – literally fatherland, itself derived from “pater,” father – is love of country. As the late Roger Scruton remarks, “in normal parlance a patriot esteems not only the institutions of a state but also, more especially, the people governed by those institutions, and the language, history and culture that is theirs.” Patriotism can also involve an attachment to a place, a territory, a landscape and its climate. (Scruton, “A Dictionary of Political Thought,” s.v. “Patriotism”) As a sentiment based on love, it is distinguishable from chauvinism, jingoism, and xenophobia.